Saving a Buck: Checking your credit report regularly
A woman in Oregon sued the credit reporting agency Equifax and was awarded $18 million after she claims she contacted the agency several times about an error on her report.
Financial and consumer advocates in Oklahoma say hiring an attorney may be the best an only option if requests to correct credit report mistakes are ignored.
“Those cases are the exception. Most of them usually resolve themselves before they get to an actual trial,” consumer advocate attorney Joe Carson said.
Tips to handle issues before taking legal action include checking your credit report with all three credit reporting agencies at least annually.
Pay close attention to details. You would be surprised how much damage just one wrong letter or number can cause. Financial expert and author Victoria Wood says it made all the difference in one her client’s cases.
“The social security number was off by one number, and that one number caused him all this grief, and there was a judgement, but it really wasn’t his judgement,” Wood said.
If you do find a discrepancy, mail your complaint via certified mail and include evidence to back up your claim.
“When you send a letter you absolutely need to attach the documents or the evidence to show that they made a mistake,” Carson said. “For example if they are reporting someone with a similar birthdate as you, you need to send a copy of your birth certificate or drivers license.”
Because without the proper documentation, you have no case.
“If you don’t have that documentation, you’re dead in the water,” Wood said. “You’ve got to be persistent. Follow up. Follow up. Follow up with them, and just keep saying that’s unacceptable.”
And if your complaints go ignored, you may have to seek legal counsel.
“Your decision ultimately is you either live with it, or you hire a lawyer,” Wood says.
If a credit reporting agency agrees to correct a mistake, get it in writing and re-check your report to make it sure it was corrected.
One of the best ways to check your credit report for free is to use AnnualCreditReport.com