How To Correct Your Credit - WSPA.com

How To Correct Your Credit

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SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. -

It's a vital part of your financial life and it follows you everywhere. Your credit history determines what you pay for a house, a car and your insurance. It can also impact your ability to rent a home or even get a job. One mistake on that report could cost you big bucks, even if the error isn't your fault.

There's one thing that has kept Patsy Potts from fully enjoying her retirement. It started nearly 14 years ago when she tried to open an account at Belk.

“They checked my credit report and they said ma'm we can't do this because you have some outstanding debts,” said Patsy. “My credit was perfect.”

Patsy was shocked and got a copy of her credit report to see for herself. She says it was riddled with errors: Credit card accounts, past due payments and hospital bills.

Patsy says after numerous phone calls, she discovered the debts belonged to a "Patsy Stephens" also of South Carolina who had a very similar social security number.

“One digit off,” said Patsy. “And we think that's how, how they got her confused with me.”

To make matters worse, those bill collectors listed on her credit report began sending her the bills belonging to that other woman.

At one point, Patsy’s family received a letter from an insurance company listing her as dead, when in fact it was the other woman who had died.

Now 2014 with the help of her attorney, her credit report is finally correct. But Patsy says she's still getting calls from creditors trying to track down payments she doesn't owe, the latest from Target.

While Patsy’s case is unique, she’s not alone.

A recent study by the Federal Trade Commission found one in five people have errors on their credit reports, which can result in lower credit scores.

If you have an error and don't know it, you could be hit with higher interest rates, meaning you pay more for your home and car loans. Your credit score could also impact your ability to rent a home or even get a job.

Attorney Lauren Clark helps people in the Upstate battle creditors and says if you notice an error dispute it right away.

“You only have two years to challenge that report. So you need to check it every year,” said Clark.

And she says you need to send more than one dispute letter.

“Just going to one of the three main bureaus, that's not enough,” said Clark. “You also need to go to the source of the problem, the person who reported it in the first place.”

Patsy Potts is hoping she's done with problems on her report but is still worried about those lingering calls from creditors.

We called Target to help clear up the issue with those calls. The corporate office looked into it for us and said Patsy shouldn't be concerned. They also reached out to her to offer some piece of mind.

We also reached out to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian for comment and were referred to the Consumer Data Industry Association. CDIA told us of the 44 million consumers that review their credit reports each year, between one and four percent file a dispute. CDIA says all disputes are responded to within 30 years and that 70% are resolved in less than 14 days.

If you find an error on your credit report, first send a dispute letter to the credit bureau that had the error: TransUnion, Equifax or Experian.

Next, send a dispute letter to the actual creditor.

Send each letter via certified mail and include copies of documents that support your claims.

The credit reporting companies then have 30 days to investigate.

If you don't win the dispute, Clark says you have two other options: Take your case to court, but that could cost thousands and take years to settle. Or you can submit up to 100 words of why you dispute an error and have it included in your report. Mistakes stay on your credit for 7 years.

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