Experts long have recommended that consumers regularly check their credit reports for errors. Now, results of a new survey may add some urgency to that call.
When Consumer Reports asked nearly 6,000 people to participate in its Credit Checkup project, 34% reported finding at least one mistake in their credit reports.
CR says 29% of consumers uncovered personal information errors, such as a wrong name or address.
Account information errors popped up for 11% of respondents. The most common such error was an account that the participant did not recognize.
In addition, 10% of respondents said accessing their credit reports was “difficult” or “very difficult.” A number of people could not access their reports due to identity verification questions they could not answer.
In some cases, respondents faced difficulties that appeared to amount to potential violations of federal law or other rules. For example, some who participated in the survey said credit bureaus charged them to access their credit reports.
Normally, all Americans are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit-reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. However, as we have reported, consumers now have the right to access their reports for free weekly through April 2022.
Other survey respondents said they had been signed up for paid services unknowingly. And among consumers who reported having accounts in forbearance, 15% said one or more of these accounts were not being reported as “current” as required under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
After hearing back from consumers about their struggles, Consumer Reports contacted each of the three major credit-reporting companies and called on them to make sure credit reports are accurate. They also asked them to help consumers obtain free credit reports and scores at any time.
CR also unveiled a petition that consumers can sign that makes the same requests.
Syed Ejaz, policy analyst for Consumer Reports, said in a press release:
“It’s time to hold the credit bureaus accountable for making sure credit reports are fair and accurate and to give consumers free access to their reports and scores at all times. No one should ever have to pay to access their own credit information.”
Mistakes in credit reports can lower your credit score, which can have serious consequences ranging from having to pay higher interest rates on loans to hindering your efforts to land a job or find an apartment.
For that reason, it is important to find credit report errors so you can let credit-reporting companies know about them.
To get your free credit report, but sure to visit annualcreditreport.com, the only credit report website authorized by federal law. We break down the process in “How to Get Your Free Credit Report in 6 Easy Steps.”
Although access to credit reports should be free, you still have to pay to see your credit score — unless you know where to look. For more, check out “7 Ways to Get Your FICO Credit Score for Free.”