When you receive a copy of your credit report, it’s really important that you make sure that the information it contains is an accurate reflection of your credit history. Your credit report will be used by lenders to determine whether or not to approve your credit application, so it’s essential that your report doesn’t contain any errors which may negatively affect your chances. But, what happens if you spot something that needs correcting on your report? How do you go about resolving the error? In this article we’ll run you through the common mistakes to look out for, and the process to go through to dispute any issues.
What are the common credit report errors to look out for?
Negative information on your credit report will reflect in your credit score, which will in turn impact your chance of getting credit. The most common kinds of mistakes to look out for are:
- Incorrect mailing addresses
- Wrong social security number
- Signs of identity theft (usually in the form of credit you didn’t apply for)
- Inaccurate notices about late payments
- Unauthorized credit inquiries
- Incorrect information about any bankruptcies, consumer proposals or debt management plans
Often these mistakes are the result of clerical errors, but in some cases, it may be the result of identity theft. In the case of clerical errors – such as an employer incorrectly inputting your name or address, you should go through the standard disputes process outlined below. But if you suspect that someone has fraudulently gotten credit in your name, then you should contact the lender immediately to pause the credit and begin a legal investigation.
A note on credit report records after a consumer proposal
If you have ever arranged a consumer proposal with your creditors (i.e. you have negotiated an agreement with a lender to repay money you owe), it’s very common that you may see what you think are errors, but which are actually correct entries.
For example, a lender sometimes reports a debt to Equifax or TransUnion as being ‘under the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act’. It’s a little confusing, but this does not mean you have filed bankruptcy. It simply means that the procedure you filed (in this case a consumer proposal) is governed by a federal law known as the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act. Though it might be alarming to see the term ‘bankruptcy’ on your report, don’t worry. It is not an error; it is simply how the debt is reported.
A lender may also report your debt as ‘included in a bankruptcy’ when you have filed a consumer proposal. Again this is an issue with the way lenders report to the credit bureau. The correct information about your procedure will appear in the legal section of your report. If a lender reads your credit report and mistakenly tells you that you filed bankruptcy, you should request that they read the legal section of your report which correctly shows the type of proceeding you have filed (a consumer proposal). You don’t need to contact the credit bureau in this instance, you should instead just familiarize yourself with the legal section of your report.
How do you dispute errors on your credit report?
If you spot something on your credit report that you suspect to be erroneous, you should contact the credit bureau directly to begin the process of getting it fixed. We suggest that you send all requests by mail rather than over the phone to avoid unnecessary delays. You should expect to wait around four months for the issue to be resolved, after which point you’ll need to order a new credit report to check that the information has been updated.
The links to access the two disputes pages can be found here:
When you receive your credit report the last page is usually a dispute resolution form that you can fill out and send back to the credit reporting agency. Complete the form as accurately as possible, stating the specifics of the error, and then send it in.
Make sure you have all of the necessary information on hand before you begin your dispute. The details you will need to provide are:
- Full name
- Social Insurance Number (optional)
- Date of birth
- Current address
- Previous address (if at current address less than two years)
- Company name of the disputed item (from your credit report)
- Reason for your dispute (e.g., you have paid the account, etc.)
Top tip: Remember to attach a note to the dispute resolution form requesting a written reply for your records and keep a copy of the updated credit reports with your insolvency documents in a safe place for future reference. You’ll want to make sure you have documented the necessary paper trail in case of any issues with a future credit application.
Do you need to update records with both credit bureaus?
It very much depends on what the lenders have reported to the bureaus. If there is an error on one report, then it is very likely to also be present in the other. As you can only request one free credit report per year from each bureau, you might benefit from ordering a credit report from just one agency, followed by one from the other 6 months later. Errors in your credit report can take up to four months to be updated, so this method is also a good way of checking that the mistake has been corrected without you having to pay for a new credit report.