If you have any kind of financial problems—and if you’re here, I assume you do—it’s not a bad idea to get a copy of your credit report. This can by an eye-opening experience. Your credit card debt may be higher than you thought, and debts you paid off that you forgot about will probably show up, too. Don’t be alarmed, just be thorough. The most important reason to do this though is to see if there are inaccuracies. If there are, you can get them removed yourself. Don’t wait until you’re on the verge of limited options or bankruptcy to do this, and don’t pay someone promising to give you credit report help.
Start by getting a free copy of your credit report from each of the reporting bureaus—Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. When you receive the reports in the mail, take the time to go through them and make note of anything that might not be correct. Warning: If there are late payments or other delinquencies on your report that are legitimate, this might be a painful process. If there are inaccuracies, the first thing you need to do is contact the credit bureau that’s reporting the inaccurate information and ask them what the procedure is to dispute that listing. Often times the instructions to do this are right on your credit report. Getting credit report help is that simple and it can be free if you visit AnnualCreditReport.com.
When you have a dispute, the credit bureau that’s reporting it will need documentation to support the inaccuracy if you have it. Try to provide as much information as possible as to why this entry is wrong. After the investigation, if they remove inaccuracies, they will send you a new report for free.
Now, chances are if you’ve missed payments or are making partial payments, your credit report has probably taken some legitimate hits that only time and better payment patterns going forward can fix. Whatever you do, do NOT dispute accurate listings, even if they aren’t favorable. If you do this, it is considered credit fraud.