Credit reports can turn into nightmares

Don't Waste Your Money

1 in 5 people find mistakes on their credit report every year.
    
And while you may think you can just call up and get something wrong removed from your credit report it's not that simple.

In fact, a growing number of people are saying it can be impossible to get those errors corrected.

Thought They Had Good Credit...Until....

Dick and Gayle Collier say they took their good credit for granted.

"You're totally embarrassed," he said. "It hits on your ego. I mean, you work all your life, you save and you're careful and then all of a sudden, no credit. We can't get accepted for a car loan. It just really messes with your head."

Five years ago, the Colliers started seeing big mistakes on their credit reports. They thought it would be easy to correct them.

Gayle's records are meticulous.  She keeps binders, spread sheets and subscribes to a credit reporting service.  

Keeping track of her and her husbands credit reports is like a full time job, she says.

Hard to Correct Errors

"You will hear that's easy to do, to simply write a dispute letter," an exasperated Gayle Collier said.

TransUnion, one of the "big 3" credit bureaus, tells you the same thing.  They even have an online video to tell you exactly how to dispute an error.  

Federal law mandates all credit reporting agencies to investigate any dispute.

But critics say that investigation often goes nowhere.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine states his opinion bluntly: "It's a joke, the investigation that they do," DeWine told us.
    
DeWine, and other Attorneys Generals across the country, say they have started a large scale investigation into credit report errors that plague millions of consumers.  

"This is a system that works real well for everybody but the consumer," DeWine said.

Where Things Go Wrong

What's the problem? DeWine says if you find an error you are suppose to send a dispute letter with documentation.

But he says the system breaks down from there.  

The documentation doesn't get sent directly to creditors, he claims, instead going to 3rd party companies outside the country, where agents sometimes have to look at 90 complaints or more a day.

DeWine says he has seen cases where cases dragged on for several years without resolution.

We were unable to speak with anyone with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion to discuss DeWine's charges. A lobbying group for the credit reporting agencies, meantime, would not confirm the Attorneys General investigation.

And the lobbying group would not comment for our report.

But AG DeWine is not backing down from his criticism of the industry.

"We've had people who can't buy a house or car," DeWine said.  "And they keep telling the reporting agency what the facts are and they keep getting jerked around."

It hasn't worked well for the Colliers.
 
They had to turn to the AG's office for help.  And, the mistakes were fixed, or so they thought.  

"Within six weeks of those changes," Gayle Collier said, "it changed right back." She does not know who or why put the incorrect information back on her credit report. So the fight continues.

How to Protect Yourself

Here are some things you should do, according to AG DeWine:

     -Check your credit report with the 3 credit bureaus every year: It's free at www.annualcreditreport.com.

       -As soon as you find an error, start writing letters to get it corrected. You'll want that mistake gone next time you apply for a loan.

       -If you get nowhere in 2 months, contact your State Attorney General's office and ask for their help.

And that way you don't waste your money.

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