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Correcting an inaccurate credit report

Dear Dr. Don,
I recently received a credit report and it does not have my correct current address nor does it include joint accounts (which are all my accounts) that I hold with my husband of 23 years. Help! -- Grady Gaffes

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Dear Grady,
With the Northeast finally coming on board to get free credit reports, I requested my Equifax credit report. While it had my current address and account relationships correct, it listed my last known employment as a job I held in college more than 20 years ago.

You want your address to be correct on your credit report, because you don't want to be concerned that there is an identity-theft issue related to an incorrect address. Contact the credit bureaus to correct your address. Bankrate provides the contact information. Filing a dispute shouldn't be necessary, but that avenue remains open to you as well. A Bankrate feature on the dispute resolution process offers more information about it.

For married couples, the payment history for all joint accounts and all accounts where the spouse is an authorized user must be reported on both credit reports. A credit report that doesn't include this information should be corrected.

You shouldn't need to use the dispute process to accomplish this goal, but, like the address issue, the dispute process can be used to get this information corrected on your credit report. Instead, first contact the credit card companies, verify joint or authorized user status and request that the payment history be included on your credit report(s).

Although most national credit card companies will report payment histories to the three principal credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, creditors aren't required to report payment histories to all three bureaus.

As a coda to my credit report problem, I didn't go through the dispute process to change my employment history with Equifax, because I recognized that any lender that's curious about my employment status will seek a verification of employment, or VOE, letter from my current employer. I'm not seeing an impact on my credit score, which is based on the information in my credit report, so I let it go.

You shouldn't do that with your credit report issues.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: Sept. 26, 2005
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