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Your credit report is an incredibly important document, but that doesn't mean it's immune to mistakes.
Some of those mistakes might be due to human error or carelessness when entering data. But problems can also crop up on your credit report if you're the victim of identity theft. All of those fake purchases can really hurt your credit score.
You have the right to contest entries in your credit score and remove fraudulent information. But to do it takes some work.
The first thing to know is that you can request a copy of your credit report once a year for free from any of the major credit bureaus. That's different from your credit score, but you can at least see what's on there.
The report includes past jobs and homes, loans and other debts, and your credit card and bank history.
You're also entitled to a free credit report after a company takes "adverse action" against you. That means denying you credit, insurance, or employment because of your credit. That applies even if you've already gotten your yearly report.
If you've been the victim of identity theft, it's likely that you racked up some debt that wasn't really yours. Once you settle it with your banks and credit card companies, you have to tackle your credit report.
The first step is to let the credit reporting company know that the report is inaccurate.
It's best to put that in writing so that you have proof that you notified them. You can also then include any documents that help prove your claim.
That might include communications with your bank or credit card about the fraud, proof of canceled charges, and other evidence of identity theft.
But if the credit reporting company refuses to respond? At that point, you should consider getting a lawyer to fight your battles.
It's not about whether you can or can't handle the process. The company is just more likely to respond quickly to a lawyer's requests rather than to yours.
No matter how you do it, it's important to keep on top of the issue. Mistakes on your credit report can be a big problem.
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