CONSUMER ALERT: REVIEW CREDIT REPORTS FOR ACCURACY
LITTLE ROCK - The information contained on credit reports is often the basis for interest rates on loans and any other credit transaction, from credit cards to cell phone contracts. Credit reports can also affect insurance premiums and even employment applications. So, when credit reports contain errors, the results could be costly
A Federal Trade Commission study released earlier this week found that there are errors on at least one of three major credit reports for about 20 percent of consumers. Additionally, 5 percent of consumers are at risk of having to pay more when obtaining credit as a result of credit-report errors.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel strongly recommends that Arkansas consumers check their credit reports for errors at least annually. Consumers may dispute any information believed to be inaccurate or outdated. McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to inform Arkansas consumers of their rights under the law to examine credit reports and seek changes if warranted.
"The FTC study demonstrated a clear need for Arkansas consumers to take the time to review their credit reports for accuracy," McDaniel said. "Inaccurate reports could lead to unnecessary costs, and I encourage consumers to seek to have any mistakes corrected. Arkansans who continue to have trouble with errors on credit reports should contact our Consumer Protection Division."
Consumers may obtain a free copy of their credit reports annually from each of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. A credit report is a comprehensive record of credit history, and it may include a large number of details about credit accounts, in addition to information as to whether a consumer has been sued, been subject to a tax lien, or filed for bankruptcy. To obtain a free copy of a credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
For consumers who find errors on their reports, McDaniel recommends the following:
• Write to the creditor and all three major credit bureaus to explain the problem with the item.
• All correspondence should be sent by certified mail, with a return receipt requested. Copies of all correspondence should be kept.
• Keep all original documents, such as receipts and billing statements.
• Remember that it pays to be persistent. It may take more than one letter to solve the problem.
The credit bureau is required to investigate a claim within 30 days and either update or delete any inaccurate item. Credit bureaus must inform consumers when an investigation is completed and provide consumers with a revised report.
In the event that a credit bureau maintains that the information contained in the report is correct, consumers are entitled to provide a statement of up to 100 words explaining why they believe there is an error in the report. This statement will be included in future credit reports.
For more information about credit reporting and other consumer issues, visit the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call the Consumer Protection Division's hotline, (800) 482-8982.