How To Fix Credit Report Errors

Credit report errors can happen, and if information is incorrect or not updated, it can have serious consequences for you when you look to get credit or loans in the future.

What is a credit report error?

A credit report error is any piece of information that appears on your credit report that is inaccurate, out-of-date, incomplete, irrelevant, or misleading.

It’s important to check your credit report carefully, as incorrect credit reports may affect your credit score, and subsequently your ability to receive credit or loans in the future.

Key areas to check for errors in your credit report are:

Types of errors What to check
Debts or Loans
  • Have these debts actually been made by you? (not fraudulent activity)
  • Are the debts listed the correct amount?
  • Are there any duplicate debts listed (the same debt listed more than once)?
  • Is the record of your repayment correct?
Defaults
  • May appear if repayments are made more than 60 days late.
  • Check to see if notices were sent informing you of your default.
  • Check to see if the report reflects whether or not overdue payments were made in full.
  • May stay on your report for 5 years.
Serious Credit Infringement
  • Check if you have been listed as a missing debtor, where a credit provider was unable to find you.
  • Check if contact could have been made.
  • May stay on your report for 7 years.
Personal Information
  • Check to see if your name and date of birth are correct.
  • Check to see if your current and two most recent addresses are correct.

It is important to note that defaults (unpaid or paid overdue) cannot be removed from your credit report unless they are incorrect.

Once a default is listed, it is not removed once it has been paid – it stays on your credit report for between 2 to 7 years depending on the type of default. A default is a black mark on your credit report and may influence credit providers in their decision about whether or not to lend money to you.

What to do if you find a credit report error

Credit reports hold a lot of important information about you in them, and they can directly influence whether you are approved for a credit card or loan. Because of this, you need to make sure that all the information in the report is correct.

If you think there has been a mistake made on your credit report, or if there is an easy explanation for a poor score, then you can request to have it changed. Incorrect listings can be changed for free, providing you can prove that it is in fact incorrect.

Some reasons why you might want to dispute your credit report include:

how to dispute your credit rating
  • The information is wrong
  • The information is out-of-date
  • The information is incomplete
  • The information is irrelevant
  • The information is misleading

If any of these affect you, it is free and relatively easy to change an incorrect listing. It’s important to get in contact with both the institution that listed the error (e.g. the phone company who said you didn’t pay your bill) and the credit reporting body.

All you need to do is follow these steps:

  1. Talk with the credit reporting agency first: The credit reporting agency can fix small errors in your information right away, and once they know about an error on your credit report, they will investigate with the institution that listed the error. If the investigation confirms that there is an error on your credit report, the report will be corrected and updated to reflect the correct information free of charge.
  2. Talk with your credit provider: Explain to them why the listing is incorrect. If the credit provider or body refuse to correct the credit file, they must provide you with the reasons why and supporting evidence to prove the information on your report is correct.
  3. Dispute resolution and the Ombudsman: If the institution who listed the error can’t or won’t fix the problem on your report, go directly to your credit provider’s independent dispute resolution scheme. This will be either the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO) for products such as loans or credit cards, and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman or Energy and Water Ombudsman for errors with other bills. You can complain to these agencies if you feel any correction request was not dealt within the 30 days’ timeframe or handled appropriately.
  4. Contact the Privacy Commissioner: If after all this, the problem still hasn’t been solved, contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OIAC) within 12 months. This is a last resort – the Commissioner may refuse to hear a complaint if the credit provider, reporting body, or Ombudsman scheme haven’t already been contacted.

To make a request with the credit reporting agency, check the website of the agency you have chosen to see how to raise a dispute:

Equifax (Veda) http://www.equifax.com.au/personal/articles/can-i-have-information-removed-my-credit-file
Dun & Bradstreet https://www.checkyourcredit.com.au/FAQs
Experian http://www.experian.com.au/credit-services/credit-reports/corrections-process.html

Your credit report holds a lot of your personal information – it’s worth checking it regularly to make sure that it’s correct.

Once your credit report is all fixed, you should wait a while and check your credit score and credit report are looking better. When you’re satisfied that your credit score is looking good, you’re free to compare your options for loans and credit cards:

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