Why You Must Check Your Credit Reports for Errors

A government study finds credit bureau mistakes are rampant, so here’s how to check your reports and make them accurate

by Richard Eisenberg • Next Avenue
credit report image
Photograph: Shutterstock

The Federal Trade Commission just issued a study showing how frighteningly common credit report errors are and why you need to fix any mistakes on yours.
The FTC surveyed 1,101 people who reviewed their 2,968 credit reports to look for errors. The results:

  • Roughly 1 in 5 (21 percent) found a mistake on at least one of their credit bureau reports.
  • Some 5 percent had errors that were serious enough for them to be denied credit or to pay higher interest rates than appropriate.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 saw an improvement in their credit score after getting their report changed – in some cases by more than 25 points.

“These are eye-opening numbers for American consumers,” said Howard Shelanski, director of the FTC Bureau of Economics.

But here’s one upsetting statistic from the FTC’s report: Half the people whose credit reports were amended after they complained still had information on their reports they alleged was inaccurate.

The FTC’s findings echo the results of the scathing series by The Columbus Dispatch that I blogged about last spring.

Credit Bureaus Often Fail to Fix Errors

It found rampant errors on credit reports from the three big credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), but noted that the bureaus often do a lousy job correcting errors after consumers contact them.

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