Earlier this week, various news outlets reported that an Oregon woman who discovered huge errors in her Equifax credit report was awarded over $18 million in damages after disputing the errors eight times over two years. According to the Oregonian, the woman’s credit report included an incorrect Social Security number and birth date on her credit report, leaving her susceptible to major damage to her credit history.
CBS News reports that 1-in-4 consumers have an error on their credit report, and that 1-in-20 errors cause damage to credit scores of up to 25 points. That number can make or break a person’s credit.
This woman’s story highlights the importance of regularly checking your credit report. You can get your credit report for free once a year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also get your credit score from the credit reporting bureaus for around $10.
Tips for monitoring your credit report:
- Stagger the reports. Pull your report from one of the credit reporting bureaus once every four months. For example, pull your Equifax report in January, TransUnion in May, and Experian in September. This will give you a good picture of your financial health throughout the year.
- Check the reports against each other. Compare the information provided by each credit reporting bureau. Not all creditors report their information to all three bureaus, so the information provided by each bureau will be different.
- Take the time to look for errors. Check the accuracy for all lines of credit that show up in your report. Scrutinize account numbers, payment histories, and balances.
- Make the call. If you notice an error, contact your creditors and the credit bureau to dispute the mistake. Be prepared to fill out paperwork to prove that the information is incorrect. Ask for replacement cards, new account numbers, and passwords for all your legitimate accounts to prevent identity thieves from further accessing your cash and credit. Also request that your credit report be flagged with a fraud alert, and ask that creditors contact you at your phone number to verify all future applications.
Call the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting agencies listed below.
For more information on surviving identity theft, click here.
How to Combat Illegal Robocalls posted on Jul 25
Robocalls have become an all-too-common nuisance for consumers. Robocalls are unsolicited, pre-recorded phone calls, often scams, which are made to consumers without their permission, as opposed to calls solicited by the consumer, such as those from pharmacies and childrens’ schools. Robocalls are illegal in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 159C. While consumers can, and should, sign-up -for both the state and national Do-Not-Call lists, unfortunately this does not always stop many unscrupulous solicitors and scammers from making these calls.
Summary of the 2015 Consumer Federation of America Annual Consumer Complaint Survey posted on Jul 22
The Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators recently released the results of the 2015 Consumer Complaint Survey. This report is based on consumer information, complaints, and suggestions for increased consumer protections from 33 consumer agencies in 21 states.
Do-Not-Call Consumer & Solicitor Responsibilities posted on Jul 20
The Massachusetts Do-Not-Call Registry allows consumers to stop receiving certain telephone solicitations simply by signing-up and providing their telephone number. Established in 2003, the law requires telephone solicitors, list-brokers, and telemarketers to register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, subscribe to the Do-Not-Call Registry, and remove registered telephone numbers of consumers from their call lists.