Take stock of your credit report now because, while it’s still freezing here in the Windy City, as the weather gets warmer, it becomes one of the most popular times to buy a home or rent a new apartment. Errors on your credit report could impact your ability to buy or rent and you don’t want to be surprised when you submit an application. Credit information, even if it’s wrong or outdated, affects whether you can get a loan, or how much that loan will cost, so you need to ensure your credit file is accurate and up-to-date.
In fact, consumers should periodically check their credit reports even if no major purchase or life change is on the horizon because it is estimated as many as 1 in 5 people have errors on their reports. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that you be given one free report per year to keep yourself informed and keep errors at bay. You can get these free reports from each of the major bureaus at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. Once you review the information in your credit report, and see something that is not accurate, you have the right to dispute that information either electronically or by mail. If you draft a dispute letter to the credit reporting bureaus, make sure to include documentation to support your dispute and be sure to send your letters via certified mail, so you have a trackable receipt.
Don’t forget that you are also eligible to receive a free report if you are denied a loan, a job or insurance based on information contained in your credit report but you must request it within 60 days after the denial.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published its 2016 helpful hints on credit report issues, available at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/category/credit-report/. Check out this information and, if you are unable to fix an error on your report on your own, contact an attorney for assistance in determining whether your rights have been violated.