INDIANAPOLIS — The pandemic is giving thieves new opportunities to steal people’s identities and mistakes happen.
A Federal Trade Commission study from 2013 found 1 in 5 people discovered an error on at least one of their credit reports. And mistakes can mean money. This is why regularly checking your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus is a must.
Here's how you can seek out errors and make them right to boost your credit score.
How to request your reports:
To get your reports, head to www.annualcreditreport.com. This site is authorized by federal law. Right now, you can get your three reports for free weekly because of the ongoing pandemic. Normally, it's once a year. The new deadline for free weekly credit reports is April 20, 2022.
Click "request free credit reports," fill out your personal information and check off that you want your report from all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Copies are available digitally or via mail. Credit scores are not included.
What to look for:
First, make sure basic information like your name and address are correct.
Next, go to accounts. Review each line of the credit's open and closed date.
Also, look for late payments that might be wrong. Tedd Rossman with CreditCards.com said late payments are the number one factor in your FICO score and that they really drag it down.
"Is there a payment that you really believe was on time that it's being recorded as late? That could trim 100 points or more off an otherwise, excellent score," Rossman said.
Last, look at hard inquiries or what TransUnion calls "regular inquiries." Rossman said they're more important than soft or promotional inquiries.
"You go to one of these credit scoring sites, you get your score, that's a soft inquiry. Hard inquiries are more of a formal application for credit. Loans, credit cards, lines of credit," Rossman said.
Should you find issues, Rossman said to contact both the bureau directly and the lender.
"This is a time when sort of a two-pronged approach can be useful. [For example] If you have a credit card dispute, you want to try to work it out with the merchant. But you might also want to file a dispute with the card company."
Preventing Identity Theft:
If you are not planning on opening a line of credit, consider freezing your account. This prevents bureaus from giving your report to new creditors.
To do this, contact each bureau individually.