Credit scores are an important part of our lives. That three-digit number can impact everything from the credit cards we qualify for, to the rate we get on a mortgage. It can sometimes even affect whether or not we land a new job or apartment.
But making on-time payments and being careful with how you manage credit is only one part of maintaining your score. You also need to watch out for errors on your report. Here’s how one error knocked over 100 points off my score.
One email a day could help you save thousands
Tips and tricks from the experts delivered straight to your inbox that could help you save thousands of dollars. Sign up now for free access to our Personal Finance Boot Camp.
By submitting your email address, you consent to us sending you money tips along with products and services that we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Please read our Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions.
It started with a pop-up notification
I’ve worked hard to build my credit history and achieve an excellent credit score. One tool I’ve found useful is Mint, an app which lets me store all my financial information in one place. Whatever stage you’re at on your financial journey, the best budgeting apps might help.
I was surprised when Mint alerted me to a drop in my credit score. I did some research and pulled a free copy of my credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. I discovered that my credit score fell a whopping 112 points due to a new charge off/collection account on my credit reports.
Collections? It couldn’t be…
I always pay my bills the moment I receive them, so this came as a shock. Something definitely wasn’t right. Aren’t collections companies known for tirelessly harassing their debtors via phone, email, and any other means to try to recoup their funds? I had never received a single communication from anyone saying I owed money.
I found the name of the collections company reporting the debt and contacted them. Without going into detail, there had been a mix up when I’d had some bloodwork done more than a year ago. The lab had my name right, but everything else was wrong — including my address, phone number, email, etc. So they had in fact been sending bills and notifications for some time, just not to me.
I explained that I’d lived in the same home for over five years and had the same phone number for 15 years. The doctor’s office had all of my correct info on file, so this was clearly not an error that I could be held at fault for. The collections company contacted the lab billing company. It agreed to retract the collections report as long as I paid the bill in full.
Covering my bases with the credit reporting agencies
This was the first time something like this had ever happened to me, so I didn’t really want to leave the fate of my credit score in the hands of a collections company. I took the following steps:
- I filed disputes online with each of the three credit reporting agencies.
- For each dispute, I had to state which item on my report was incorrect, explain the issue, and attach documentation to support my case. I attached copies of all my correspondence between both the collections agency and the lab billing company, including the eventual bill paid in full.
- I was informed that a case had been opened and that I’d receive a response within 30 days.
A couple of weeks later I received the first of three responses: One bureau had found in my favor and removed the collections account from my credit report. Within another week, I’d received the same response from the other two bureaus. All of the frustration and anxiety that had been building over one small credit report error was finally beginning to dissipate.
Don’t expect an overnight fix
I had assumed my credit score would immediately be restored to its former glory. After all, the error had been removed from all three of my credit reports. But this was another good lesson. When it comes to credit scores, nothing happens overnight.
It took another few weeks before all 112 missing points were restored, boosting me back into excellent territory. The sad thing is that this type of situation is not unusual. As many as 1 in 5 people have mistakes on their credit reports. The best way to protect yourself is to check your credit report regularly. That way you can make sure there are no errors working against you.
Right now and through April 2022 you can get a free weekly copy of your credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus. Many of the best credit cards also provide you with access to your credit score in your online account. And many personal finance apps also provide this information. They’ll even notify you when any changes to your score occur.
As I learned the hard way, these types of mistakes can and do happen. But if it happens to you, you can take steps to straighten it out. Do your due diligence and immediately file disputes with the credit reporting agencies. With a little time and effort, you can get the error permanently removed from your credit report.
View more information: https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/credit-cards/articles/how-i-fixed-an-error-in-my-credit-report-and-raised-my-fico-score-by-112-points/