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Hey Consumers, Stand Up for Your Credit Reports

Your credit report won’t defend itself.

When a nationwide consumer reporting agency — Equifax, TransUnion or Experian — makes a mistake on your credit report, it’s up to you to get it fixed. Those companies don't make exceptions for military consumers, as nice as that would be. As a consumer, you need to be vigilant in checking your credit and disputing errors.

The number of consumers disputing items on their report fell in 2011 compared to 2007. In 2011, consumers filed disputes that led to somewhere between 32 to 38 million dispute reinvestigations. Four years prior, the nationwide consumer reporting agencies (NCRAs) dealt with 47 to 53 million dispute reinvestigations. All of this data comes from a December 2012 Consumer Finance Protection Bureau report.

2007 was a high-volume year for credit applications, but that doesn't mean consumers should get lazy when they’re not seeking credit in the immediate future. Just because you don’t want or need credit now doesn’t mean you won’t want it in the future.

You never know when an identity thief might strike. Keep an eye on your credit history to ensure that nobody is tampering with your credit and money.

The NCRAs aren’t perfect either. You’re the one that takes the hit for their mistakes.

You, the consumer, must do the work. You can start by checking your credit report for free — not your scores, you’ll have to pay for those. From here, you get a snapshot of your credit history. Find the errors and then contact your card issuer.

How? A plurality of disputes in 2011 was filed by mail (44 percent). Consumers filed 42 percent of disputes online and 13 percent by phone. Walk-ins, faxes and other methods accounted for the remainder of disputes. Pick your method, or use more than one.

Take initiative on behalf of your credit report. When you notice your credit has somehow taken an unexpected hit, look into it. There are plenty of resources for you to dispute the hell out of a mistake, so don’t act helpless.

Have you ever disputed an error with an NCRA?

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