Complaints about credit reports are up 45 percent nationally in the past year, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In Wisconsin, credit reporting complaints have more than doubled in the past three months. What’s behind all of these complaints?
The most common complaints made by consumers involve incorrect information in their reports. More than three-quarters of complaints involve errors that could affect a consumer’s credit score, such as paid debt appearing as unpaid, or showing debt that does not belong to the consumer.
Additional reasons for filing a credit reporting complaint include trouble ordering a free report; difficulty correcting a mistake with a credit reporting bureau; concerns with a credit monitoring service; and debt appearing on a report when it is old enough to be legally removed.
“The truth is consumers are on their own when it comes to making sure information in their credit reports is accurate and up to date,” says Fond du Lac County UW-Extension Family Living Educator Shelley Tidemann
“To make it easier for people to keep an eye on their credit reports, UW-Extension’s ‘Check Your Free Credit Report Campaign’ allows Wisconsin residents to sign up for free emails to remind them to order three free credit reports each year on Feb. 2, June 6, and Oct. 10.”
Federal law lets you check your credit reports for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The free credit reports you are entitled to by law are only available through AnnualCreditReport.com and its associated mailing address and phone number.
Credit reporting affects the lives of most Americans, yet about one in five adults may have errors in their reports, according to the Federal Trade Commission. These errors can affect how much you pay for a loan or insurance, whether you are offered a job, or whether you can rent a house or an apartment.
Since 2012, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has handled approximately 105,000 credit reporting complaints, including almost 1000 from Wisconsin residents.
“You need to check your credit report regularly to catch errors or discover identity theft,” says Tidemann “If you do find an error on your credit report and have trouble correcting it with the credit reporting bureau, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can help.”
The CFPB accepts complaints on many consumer financial products, including credit reports and credit cards, mortgages, student loans, among other concerns. Individuals can submit a complaint online at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint or call toll-free at 1-855-411-CFPB (2372). The CFPB expects companies to respond to complaints and to describe the steps they have taken or plan to take to resolve the complaint within 15 days.
To sign up for an email reminder to check your free credit report, visit the UW-Extension ‘Check Your Free Credit Report Campaign: 2/2, 6/6, 10/10’ website at www.fyi.extension.wisc.edu/creditreport. In addition to the reminders, the website provides helpful information about credit reports and scores, the process of getting and reading your reports, and explains what to do if you find errors. ###