Correcting Errors in My Credit Report

I mentioned before that we’re refinancing our home mortgage into a lower interest, fixed-rate loan with a 15 year term instead of our current 30 year term. We’re excited about the prospects of owning our home outright in the (relatively) near future. Especially since with the last of our debts paid off, later this year, we expect to be able to pay off our house even sooner than 15 years.

One thing that has come up during this process is some ugly marks on my credit score. What? Mine? I’ve never paid a bill late, and have never had an item go to collections, but there were four accounts in collection on my credit score.

Thankfully, this has happened before, so I know how to take care of it. In case you haven’t seen this sort of thing, I thought I’d pass on the process for disputing an error in your credit report.

First, you have to see your credit report, and you can get this on the internet. I order mine for free from TransUnion but then I also pay the extra $14.00 for my score from all credit bureaus so I can see what’s going on.

In my case, this is a simple error, which is kind of a pain. I have an extremely common name. My name is Jessica Ward. For a few years, I hyphenated my last name, and for many utilities and things my name was abbreviated to include the first letter of my maiden name as a middle initial, even though my middle initial is something else.

The problem arises because I have a neighbor, about four buildings away from me, with the same name, whose middle name happens to start with the same letter as my maiden name. She also has problem paying her bills. When they can’t reach her, they send the bills to collection, and they get attached to my credit report.

Here’s how you clear up an error like this:

  • Determine which bureaus have your information recorded inaccurately. There was 250 point difference in my credit scores between TransUnion and the other bureaus. Since my scores are in the high 700s with the others, I knew that’s where the problem was.
  • File a “dispute” following that bureau’s process. There’s an online process for Transunion, but the form didn’t work for me, so I mailed a letter.
  • Mail letters certified.
  • The bureau has 30 days to provide evidence that you owe the debt, or remove the information from your file.

Here’s the letter that I sent. I’m changing my maiden name initial to X to protect the privacy of my neighbor.

TransUnion Consumer Relations
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Jessica Ward and the last four of my SSN are XXXX.

I presently have four collections accounts appearing on my credit report that actually belong to a neighbor, Jessica X. Ward. I believe the confusion stems from the fact that my maiden name was Jessica XXXXXX and for a period of time, I hyphenated my name, which gave us nearly-identical names, and nearly identical addresses.

Ms. Jessica X Ward’s last four of her SSN are XXXX, mine are XXXX. (I received this information from her creditors… who provided it to me!!)

I am in the middle of a refinance, and these derogatory collections items are hurting my credit score, not to mention the neighborhood relations here on XXth Place South.

Please remove the following charges from my credit report, as they do not belong to me.

1. XXXX account # 1XXX for Quality Food Centers, Balance $173.
2. XXXX account # 1XXX for Quality Food Centers, Balance $238.
3. XXXX account # 1XXX for K Mart $161.
4. XXXX account # 1XXX for K Mart $55.

If you have any questions regarding this letter, please reply in writing or contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Expediency would be greatly appreciated as I don’t want to risk loosing my rate lock on my mortgage.