Errors On Your Credit Report? Take These Steps

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — You may now know it, but you could have an error on your credit report that would result in your paying more for a home, credit card or car.

Says who? Says Uncle Sam, in a report out this week.

According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, 5% of Americans have mistakes on at least one of the three major credit reports — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — that could cost them more for major purchases.

Furthermore, 20% of U.S. consumers have a mistake on their credit report that may not trigger an immediate decline in their credit scores but could hurt their scores down the road.

Credit scores are the ultimate kitchen table economist issue. Let unattended, those errors could really hit Americans where it hurts – in the wallet.

“These are eye-opening numbers for American consumers,” says Howard Shelanski, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics. “The results of this first-of-its-kind study make it clear that consumers should check their credit reports regularly. If they don’t, they are potentially putting their pocketbooks at risk.”

Here’s a snapshot of relevant points from the FTC report:

  • 25% of U.S. consumers found errors on their credit reports that could crimp their credit health.
  • 20% of consumers had an error on their credit report that was corrected by the credit agency after the mistake was disputed.
  • 80% of consumers who filed disputes had the mistake “modified” by the credit report agency.
  • 5% of consumers had a maximum score change of more than 25 points, and only one in 250 consumers had a maximum score change of more than 100 points.

"Credit reports play a crucial role in determining consumers' financial discipline and responsibility," says Howard Dvorkin, CPA and founder of Consolidated Credit. "Detecting credit report errors allows consumers to correct inaccurate information that could potentially lead to denied loans and high interest rates."