Mike Dudley, principal at Discovery Elementary in Meridian, hasn’t had problems with his credit in the past, present and hopefully future.
When he received an email stating a late payment was recorded against his credit report, it upset him. He discussed the email with his wife, checked his records, and did an Internet search.
The email claimed a 30-day delinquency was added to his credit report. “We strongly urge you to check your credit score immediately & request for removal if you believe its (cq) not true.” It was an accompanied with a link to an unknown website.
“For those of us who pay everything, it really bugs you,” he says.
The email appears to be directed to a “free credit” report service, and getting sign-ups. The report is free, but a credit score, alerts or other services are charged to your credit card.
“I didn’t know that I had an alert on any credit reports,” Dudley says. “But, what really bothered me – after I found out it was a fraud – was thinking that I’d spent two to three hours thinking about this.”
You can get a free credit report at annualcreditreport.com. This report provides you with a summary of creditors, current and past, with whom you’ve dealt. It will provide a credit score for a one-time fee.
Looking at a credit report:
- Carefully review each entry for accuracy – name, address, account numbers, etc.
- Compare your records with the credit bureau’s account of your credit history to make sure that each open account listed is open.
- Look at the payment history – is it true.
- Verify each loan is actually your loan.
- Identify any errors. If you locate errors, start a dispute. This can be done online or, you may send a certified letter, with supporting documentation, to a credit bureau.
The Federal Trade Commission has more detail and sample dispute letter on its websites. Instructions for either option are at the end of your credit report. You’ll also find these steps explained in the company’s Frequently Asked Questions section of their site.
If you find fraudulent charges, you’ll need to:
- request a “fraud alert” from each of the bureaus;
- file a police report; and
- file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC provides detailed information on how to complete each of these steps when fraud is suspected.
If you have negative notations on your credit report that are true and factual, don’t file a dispute. Doing so is illegal. Derogatory information, including late payments and loan defaults can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, except bankruptcy, which often remains on the reports for 10 years, both make it difficult to prove that you are a responsible consumer. If negative information lasts longer than these time periods, you may ask that it be removed.
Unless the disputes is judged to be frivolous, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, they must respond to consumer disputes within 30 days.