ASK KIM


Fixing Credit Report Errors Fast

Kimberly Lankford

We recently shopped for a home loan and got a credit analysis. We disagree with two factors listed in the report. How can we get these discrepancies cleared up quickly?



We recently shopped for a home loan and got a credit analysis from Equifax. We disagree with two factors listed in the report. One showed a delinquency, but we always pay our bills on time and have never had a late fee. The report also said we had too many accounts with balances. But we have only two active credit cards, and we pay them in full each month. How can we get these discrepancies cleared up quickly?

Credit bureaus generally have up to 30 days to investigate disputes with consumers. But we'll let you in on a little secret: Your mortgage lender might be able to get your report fixed in as little as 36 to 72 hours.

Lenders generally work with independent credit-reporting agencies, which gather information from the big-three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Most of these middlemen also offer "rescoring" services -- working with the credit bureaus to fix errors on your report within a few days and rerunning your score to reflect a more accurate risk factor. "Raising your credit score above a certain threshold by as few as ten points can lower your rate and save you thousands of dollars in interest charges," says Gerri Detweiler, credit expert for EverydayWealth.com.

The process is labor intensive, so it's available only for mortgages, not smaller loans. And you can't do it on your own. You need to work through your lender, who will have to pay a rescoring fee--– generally about $120 for two accounts corrected by two bureaus, says Evan Hendricks, author of Credit Scores and Credit Reports: How the System Really Works. As a result, you may have to lobby a reluctant lender to rescore your application.

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Rescoring works only with legitimate errors, so you must provide documentation that the information is incorrect. In your case, you should be able to fix the delinquency error. But the balance issue may not be a mistake. Your credit score is based on how much you owe at the time the account is checked. Having too high a balance could hurt your score even if you end up paying off the entire amount the following day.

For more information about credit scores, see Demystifying Your Credit Score.

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.




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