Articles

Time for a Credit Check Up by Rick D. Bazzani, CPA


Posted on March 18, 2015 by Rick Bazzani

The start of a New Year is a perfect time for taxpayers to check their credit reports with the three major reporting agencies. Note only does this allow individuals the opportunity to recognize and address reporting errors that could impede efforts to secure a loan or new employment, it can also help individuals detect potential instances of identity theft and fraud.

 

Get a Free Credit Report

Individuals may receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three major reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the only website endorsed by the Federal government. Consumers may request reports from all three agencies at one time or spread out their requests between the three agencies throughout the year to better monitor their credit histories and spot mistakes or possible cases of identity theft.

 

Review for Accuracy

A credit report includes an individual’s personally identifying information as well as data culled from public records, past and current creditors, and lenders from which individuals applied for credit or loans. Mistakes can occur, but it is the consumer’s responsibility to spot them and take steps to correct them. For example, it is not uncommon for individuals to see their ex-spouses’ information or inquiries from companies they do not recognize on their credit reports. Moreover, debts – whether or not they have been settled – will remain on one’s credit reports for seven years from the date the account became delinquent.

 

Dispute Errors

Once consumers confirm that errors on their credit reports are, in fact, errors, they may dispute them by contacting creditors directly and/or the reporting agencies via the annualcreditreport.com website. When additional documentation is required to support a disputed item, consumers should take extra care to send those papers via certified mail to ensure receipt by the intended recipients.

 

Credit plays an increasingly significant role in consumers’ lives. Lenders, business partners and even potential employers rely on credit reports and related three-digit credit scores to measure the risk of working with an individual. Taking the time regularly to review their credit reports and correct errors could mean the difference between an individual securing or loosing a loan, line of credit, business contract or new job.

 

About the Author: Rick D. Bazzani, CPA, is a senior manager in Berkowitz Pollack Brant’s Tax Services practice. He can be reached in the firm’s Ft. Lauderdale CPA office (954) 712-7000 or at info@bpbcpa.com.