If not, check it.
A couple weeks ago, 60 minutes ran a story on credit reports and the millions of errors contained on them. When is the last time you checked your report?
According to a new study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, 1 out of 5 consumers have errors on their credit report with many of these consumers unaware of the errors.
As many as 40 million consumers have mistakes on their credit report, with 20 million having severe errors on their report. As fast as a credit bureau can sell your data to make profit, the opposite is true when consumers try diligently to dispute these errors.
There are three credit bureaus that maintain information of roughly 200 million consumers. Creditors willingly send information to these bureaus.
All of the data is merged into your personal credit report. As consumers apply for credit, merchants utilize the data from the three credit bureaus, analyze the data and make a “data” decision of your credit worthiness. Unfortunately, with 40 million consumers with errors, their purchasing power is taking a hit.
Federal Law states that a consumer can dispute any item on their credit report and the bureaus have to make a reasonable investigation to handle these disputes. Unfortunately, according to the 60 minutes story, these disputes are not being investigated and handled properly.
What should consumers do?
Order your three credit reports – The law states consumers are allowed to have a free copy of their credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Make the effort to review yours and make sure all data on the reports is indeed your data. Validate your data. Name, employment, inquiries. Is it yours? If not, dispute.
Dispute errorneous info – The FACT Act states that as consumers, you may dispute any item on your credit report and that the credit bureaus must act on the dispute and provide word within a 30-45 day window. Don’t wait until it is too late.
Budget a credit monitoring/identity theft protection service – For many consumers, identity theft has beaten up their credit. Dispute the past issues and have a professional identity theft company monitor and protect your identity. Having something in place is better than nothing. While we may not have control over our personal data stored with Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, you have the freedom to take control of your credit – become proactive versus reactive. Act now before it becomes too late and too expensive to deal with.
Dennis Schmid is a married father of 3 living in Mesa, Arizona. Dennis works full-time for the leader in Identity Theft Protection and has first-hand knowledge of what society needs to protect families and businesses from cyber-attacks and identity theft.
Categories: Cyber Safety