3 Types of Credit Report Errors to Look Out For

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on May 4, 2021

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Reviewing your credit report? Here are three mistakes to keep on your radar.

It's a good idea to check your credit report once every few months. And it's especially important to check your credit report if you're planning to apply for a large loan, like a mortgage.

But when you review your credit report, you may come across errors you'll want to get fixed. Here are a few specific ones to keep on your radar.

1. Delinquent debts that were already settled

Maybe you used to owe money on a credit card because you couldn't make the minimum payments. Or maybe you racked up medical debt when a series of bills hit at once. Sometimes, people fall behind on their bills and these things can't be helped. But if you've since paid off or settled the debt in question and it's still showing up on your credit report as delinquent years later, you'll want to address those errors.

2. Delinquent debts that were never yours

It's one thing for your credit report to list an outstanding debt you racked up. But you may be shocked to see a delinquent account on your credit report that was never yours in the first place. You might see this happen if the person who actually owns that debt has the same name as you, or a similar Social Security number. Either way, it's the sort of mistake you'll want to correct right away.

3. Open accounts that aren't yours

You may see active accounts listed on your credit report that you never opened, regardless of whether they're delinquent. If that's the case, it could be that the reporting bureau in question has simply made a mistake. Or, it could be that someone fraudulently opened a new account in your name and is testing the waters before racking up a huge balance against it. Either way, you'll want to investigate.

What to do if your credit report contains an error

If you find an error on your credit report, contact the bureau that put out that report and contest the information. Credit bureaus are required to investigate all errors that are reported to them, usually within 30 days. From there, you'll be notified of a resolution (or not). If the matter isn't resolved, you can reach out to the bank or credit card company the disputed debt came from and try to resolve it directly. And if the matter is resolved, your credit report should be updated to reflect that change.

Normally, you're entitled to a free copy of your credit report every year from each of the three reporting bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. But due to the coronavirus pandemic, you can get your credit reports for free once a week through April of 2022.

While reading your credit report every week generally isn't necessary, you should check your report more frequently if you spot an error or you see an instance of fraud. And in the latter situation, you may also want to look at putting a credit freeze in place to protect yourself. Negative information on your credit report could drag down your credit score, making it harder to borrow money when you need to, so being vigilant about errors is always a good idea.

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