Your credit report is a critical piece of your financial history, especially when you’re in the market for a new credit card or loan. Unfortunately, the credit bureaus that hold your report aren’t perfect, and there are often times you’ll find issues like old or wrong accounts that need to be fixed.
If you’re looking to remove false accounts on your credit report, then you’re in luck! This blog post will show you step-by-step how to do just that. Let’s dive in.
1. Order your credit report from all 3 bureaus
You’re entitled to one free full credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus once a year, so if you haven’t yet ordered yours, now is the time. Each bureau will have its own mix of accounts because lenders will typically report to only one or two of them, so it’s critical you order a copy of your report from each bureau to ensure you don’t have any other surprise accounts listed.
Getting the full picture is also a great time to consider your debt situation and think about ways to consolidate debt to improve your credit score. While it’s more critical that you get rid of the wrong information on your report now, take your free yearly pull opportunity to strategize how you’ll improve your score to reap the benefits of getting to the next credit tier.
2. Contact the company that reported the false account
Typically, it’s easier and faster to correct the mistake by speaking directly with the lender that reported the account as yours. Contact their fraud department and dispute the account with them directly.
3. File a dispute with the credit bureaus
If the lender isn’t willing to flag the account as fraudulent or has taken more than 30 days to report the error to the credit bureaus, file a dispute directly with each bureau that lists the account on your report. Include any evidence you have that the account is fraudulent.
Provide any emails or dates of phone calls you’ve had with the company’s fraud department to show you’ve taken action and haven’t been able to resolve this with the lender. You should expect to receive a judgment within 30 days of filing, so keep your case number somewhere safe in the event you need to follow up.
4. Add a fraud alert and consider freezing your credit
Once the dispute is filed, consider adding a fraud alert or freezing your credit for the time being. Both of these methods require additional work to verify your identity before new credit lines will be opened, so if you’re worried this isn’t a one-time mistake, it’s best to make it as difficult as possible for identity thieves to open more accounts in your name.
5. Contact the CFPB if the account isn’t removed
If the bureaus rule against you, not all hope is lost. File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and request to have the account flagged as fraudulent or removed from your credit report. The CFPB is the agency to which the credit bureaus report, so you might be able to get them on your side, but you’ll need to provide significant evidence that you’ve exhausted every method first and have substantial evidence that this account was opened in your name without consent.
The bottom line
If your credit score is suffering, consider using the process outlined above to clean up your credit report. You could be enjoying a higher credit score and better terms just by following these three simple steps.