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A new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau spotlights a sharp spike in consumer gripes about credit reporting.
The number of complaints consumers submitted to the agency regarding credit reports increased 56% between June and July. Complaints also increased 45% year over year. The overwhelming majority of them (77%) involve incorrect information on reports.
Why should I care?
The report highlights how common and serious errors on credit reports can be. In addition to flagging identity theft, these errors can prove difficult to fix — also highlighted in the report — and do damage to your credit score in the process.
Why are there so many complaints?
Errors on credit reports, unfortunately, aren’t really a new problem. In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission found that 1 in 4 consumers identified errors on their credit reports.
But thanks to all these recent high-profile data breaches, consumers are much more aware of identity theft and fraud issues. And many have been provided with free credit monitoring services — a go-to for compromised companies looking to make good — which makes it much easier to spot any misinformation that’s being reported.
What should I do?
If you haven’t done so recently, check your credit report for errors. (You can pull yours for free at myBankrate.) If you spot an error, dispute it with the credit bureau (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) in question; instructions for how to do so should be on the report itself or the bureau’s website. You should also contact any creditor involved in the dispute.
If you are having trouble getting the issue resolved, you can submit a complaint to the CFPB.
Is that all?
No, certain errors, including unfamiliar trade lines (loans you didn’t apply for) or mysterious credit inquiries, are a sign that identity theft has occurred. If that’s the case, you need to contact the bureaus and your creditors, but also file a police report and register a complaint with the FTC. Check out this Bankrate article for a step-by-step guide of what to do after your identity has been stolen.
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