Dear Motley Fool, 

I am in the process of cleaning up my credit report. For over three years now, I have had a spot-free record of timely payments to my creditors. I have also addressed discrepancies on my credit reports. Still, there is one unresolved issue -- one piece of information reported by one credit bureau differs from that reported by the other two major bureaus. This was an instance where a debt was charged off and the other two report it as being bought by another lender and paid.

I asked the one credit-reporting agency to correct their records (as the loan was indeed bought by another lender and paid in full), but the bureau has failed to make the change, saying that the information they got from the creditor was up-to-date.

Do I have any other options other than asking the credit-reporting agency to add a statement of my own to my credit report? – Dinged by one minor detail

Dear Dinged,

What we have here is a failure to communicate. It appears that everyone got the memo about your debt payoff except one credit bureau.

Now it's your job -- sorry! -- to track down where the signal was broken. That's because in matters of credit-reporting accuracy, the onus is on the individual consumer to make sure things are right.

 While the credit-reporting agency will conduct an investigation into a dispute, it may not be able to confirm the accuracy of the information it receives from the creditor. So, if the information is just plain wrong, then your report will reflect the same error.

So get ready to roll up your shirtsleeves and fix the boo-boos.

Your best course of action is to contact the reporting lender directly, with your credit reports and proof of the loan payment in hand. Lenders do not always consistently report to each credit bureau, so perhaps this is an overdue reporting error.

Regardless of the reason, you'll need to have the lender report the new and corrected information directly to the credit reporting agency that has it wrong.

You can also have a note put in your credit file if the matter isn't handled in the way you want it to be. But be aware that such notations are rarely viewed in the impersonal credit-granting process unless an actual human being is vetting your credit.

Hopefully, with a bit of patience and elbow grease, the matter will be resolved.

A word to the rest of you
If you haven't reviewed your credit history in a while, now's as good a time as any. You should check your record with all three bureaus at least once a year-- and most definitely before undertaking any major financial move. Depending on whom you believe, anywhere from one half of one percent to up to 33% of credit files contain errors. The truth is probably somewhere in between. (And some of those errors may be in your favor.)

Go to annualcreditreport.com to get your free reports. And, no, you don't have to sign up for any other services to qualify for your freebie. Annualcreditreport.com is the official site built to comply with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) and is the only service authorized by all three credit reporting agencies to deliver this service.

For more on making your credit look spiffy: