credit & debt

A New Watchdog for Credit Bureaus

When it comes to credit report errors, a new federal agency has your back.

Big Brother is watching ... your finances. The three major credit-reporting companies—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—maintain files on roughly 220 million Americans. If the information about you is not accurate, you could be forced to pay a higher interest rate, or you could be rejected for a credit card or loan.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new federal watchdog agency, has announced that it will supervise 30 of the largest credit-reporting agencies (there are actually about 400). According to Richard Cordray, the CFPB director, the bureau will examine the accuracy of the data the agencies receive, how the companies maintain and assemble the information in consumers’ credit reports, and how the agencies manage dispute resolution.

The CFPB’s tough new oversight is welcome news. By some estimates, as many as 25% of credit reports contain errors. A yearlong investigation by the Columbus Dispatch of complaints involving credit reports on file with the big three agencies found bank-approved short sales listed as fore­closures, paid-off car loans listed as repossessions, and closed credit card accounts listed as delinquent. So you still need to be vigilant about checking your credit report. To request a free report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com. You are entitled to one free report from each of the big three once every 12 months.

If you do discover an inaccuracy, write to the credit agency and be sure to enclose any supporting documentation. The agency must investigate, provide a written report and correct any errors it discovers. If that doesn’t work, contact the CFPB for help.

This article first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. For more help with your personal finances and investments, please subscribe to the magazine. It might be the best investment you ever make.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: All 41 Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked
stocks

The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: All 41 Warren Buffett Stocks Ranked

The Berkshire Hathaway portfolio is a diverse set of blue chips, and increasingly, lesser-known growth bets. Here's a look at every stock picked by Wa…
November 16, 2021
Resist the Impulse to Buy These 14 Holiday Gifts
shopping

Resist the Impulse to Buy These 14 Holiday Gifts

Don't let those holiday sale promotions persuade you into buying something now that will be much cheaper later.
November 18, 2021

Recommended

What to Do If Your Credit Card Is Closed
Making Your Money Last

What to Do If Your Credit Card Is Closed

The issuer may restore your account with the previous terms, or it may request that you reapply for the card.
November 22, 2021
Don't Let Your Credit Card Rewards Expire
Travel

Don't Let Your Credit Card Rewards Expire

If your miles or points are expiring too soon, see if you can reset the clock by transferring some to another loyalty program.
October 28, 2021
Should I Use Credit or Debit?
Basics

Should I Use Credit or Debit?

Credit cards offer more protections and rewards, but debit cards reduce the temptation to overspend.
October 4, 2021
New Buy Now, Pay Later Options
Smart Buying

New Buy Now, Pay Later Options

If you’ve been considering a BNPL plan, make sure the credit card in your wallet doesn't already have you covered.
September 29, 2021