Few things are more stressful than receiving a credit card fraud alert from your credit card company. Luckily, dealing with fraud, and fraud alerts, is easier than ever, thanks to new tech credit bureaus added recently. Here's how to amend your credit report so that fraud alerts, derogatory marks, and inaccurate data never affect your credit score.
What's a credit card fraud alert?
Fraud alerts are added to credit reports if the consumer might have had their identities stolen. It's not the same as a credit freeze, which prevents any new credit cards or loans from being opened, but is simply a notice that the lender should ask for more identifying information before approving the application.
How to remove a credit card fraud alert
Today removing a fraud alert from your credit report is easier than ever, thanks to the Internet. First, check to see which bureaus are reporting the alert. There are three major credit bureaus - TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian - and not all alerts will be reported by all three.
Once you determine which bureau lists the alert, simply go to their website and submit an online request to remove the alert. Depending on your situation, the bureau will remove the alert as quickly as a few days or as long as a few weeks, so if it's an urgent request, be sure to give them as much information as possible. You can also call them or submit a request in the mail, but online requests typically get processed the fastest.
What is a derogatory mark?
Derogatory marks on a credit report are historical data points that indicate you may be a high-risk borrower. They're typically added if you've missed payments on your credit card, have a low credit score, or have had loans or credit cards sent to collections.
How to remove a derogatory mark
If your derogatory mark is from an old loan or credit card account, it's not something the bureaus can remove. However, it's not difficult to start the process for removal as all data points on your credit report list the reporting lender and their listed contact information (usually a phone number and mailing address). You'll need to talk to the lender who initially reported the mark and ask for help removing it. If the derogatory mark is from an account still open, you can try contacting the creditor who reported it, explain the situation, and work something out to remove it. Most often, it will involve paying off any outstanding balances.
What is inaccurate credit data?
Inaccurate credit data is simply marks on your credit report that aren't correct. This could be a loan or credit card mistakenly put in your name, outdated contact or job information, or incorrect borrowing statuses (such as a loan or credit card showing as open when it's been closed).
How to remove inaccurate data
Like fraud alerts, you'll need to determine which bureaus are reporting the wrong information since you'll need to dispute these individually. If it's outdated information, you can go to the reporting bureau's website and submit an online request to have the information updated.
Loans or credit cards you don't recognize will require more investigation as these could be fraudulent accounts created without your knowledge. Contact the individual lender first to see what's happening and request an investigation. Each lender will have a timetable for investigating, so give them a chance to see what happened. If you're unsatisfied with their result, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to file a dispute with the lender. The CFPB is a government agency that can get things moving, as there are harsh penalties for lenders that don't respond within a certain timeframe.
For incorrect borrowing statuses, contact the lender to request they update your report. However, don't worry if your credit report isn't automatically updated after closing an account. It typically takes anywhere from 30 days to a few months for a lender to report an account as closed.
The bottom line
The internet has made getting fraud alerts, derogatory marks, and inaccurate data removed from your credit report much easier. However, getting everything sorted out can take a few steps and some patience, so don't worry if things don't move as quickly as you'd like.
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