How to Clean a Credit Report?

By Contributing Writer

  • Overview

    Any person who has ever applied for employment or wanted to qualify for an auto loan or tried to get a home mortgage knows that a credit report is pivotal to whether you are accepted or rejected. Negative marks on your credit report can adversely affect you, so it is extremely important than any inaccuracies be cleared up as soon as possible to avoid further problems. Despite the frustration involved, there are some things you can do to help correct, or clean, your credit report and improve your financial standing.
    • Step 1

      Write for a credit report from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, which are the three credit reporting agencies. You can also request your credit report online from their websites. Chances are that there are some inaccuracies on them, as well as lack of consistency between the differing reports. You are entitled to one free credit report annually.
    • Step 2

      Check your individual credit reports for mistakes and put an asterisk beside them. Inaccuracies may include incorrect addresses, wrong personal information, failure to list accounts that have been paid in full or charged off, failure to include accounts that are currently in good standing, duplicate accounts and listing of accounts that do not belong to you. Make sure that any accounts discharged in a bankruptcy are listed as being included in that bankruptcy and that there are shown at a zero balance.

    • Step 3

      Send a letter off to each of the reporting agencies, in dispute of their findings, if you find errors. List and detail the specific errors you have found on your credit reports, along with the corrected information. Reference the page number and item from the report, then explain the discrepancy. Request that they perform an investigation and that they make all necessary corrections.
    • Step 4

      Be prepared to contact the credit card companies directly if they have provided incorrect information to the three credit reporting agencies. You will need to send copies of billing statements and receipts, proofs of payment and any other documents that support your claim. This can sometimes be a frustrating process, but is needed to aggressively deal with incorrect information sent by creditors. Wait 1 to 2 weeks and, if you have received no response from the creditor you contacted, call them by telephone to address your concern, letting them know the date your written dispute was mailed and its specifics. Sometimes asking to speak to a manager, rather than to a regular customer service rep, will yield better results.
    • Step 5

      Demand that each of the three reporting agencies include your statement that you remain in dispute in future credit reports, as a matter of record. Until the matter is corrected, your statement should be included in your credit report. You then need to request another credit report from them, to ensure that they have followed through on this.
    • Step 6

      Continue to be diligent about checking on your credit report every 3 to 4 months, to make certain that the corrections that were made are still there, that erroneous information has been removed and that no other mistakes have been made. The sooner you catch an error, the sooner it can be cleaned up.
    • Step 7

      Ensure that you are safe from identity theft by asking that your credit file be locked and that you be contacted if any new credit card accounts are applied for under your name. This will require that verification come from you before any new credit card accounts are opened and keeps fraudulent activity from occurring and appearing on your credit reports.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • Credit report
    • Tip: Always send copies of paperwork, never original copies.

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