My credit report shows a bankruptcy I never filed. What do I do?

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Q. Creditors are reporting that there is a bankruptcy on my credit report. Though my credit rating is low, I’ve never filed for bankruptcy. What steps do I need to take to get this corrected?
— Stumped

A. Credit report errors are not uncommon, but this one is a whopper.

It’s one thing to find a name misspelled, but serious items like phantom bankruptcies need to be corrected.

According to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), both the credit reporting agency and the organization that provided the information are responsible for correcting inaccuracies in credit reports, said Deva Panambur, a certified financial planner with Sarsi, LLC in West New York. and adjunct professor of personal finance at Montclair State University.

However, the consumer is often the one who needs to initiate the process.

First, contact the credit report agency to alert them of the error, Panambur said.

You can do this online or by sending a letter. Here’s how to contact the credit bureaus:

Experian: (888) 397-3742
Equifax: (800) 349-9960
TransUnion: (888) 909-8872

Panambur said the credit agencies are required to investigate your complaint within 30 days, unless they believe the complaint to be frivolous. They do this by directing the information provider, such as the lender, to investigate.

“If the information provider finds that the disputed entry in your credit report is inaccurate, it must notify all three major credit reporting agencies,” he said. “Separately, you should write to the information provider disputing the bankruptcy.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has samples of dispute letters you can use to contact both the credit reporting agency and the information provider on its website.

If the dispute is settled in your favor, on your request, Panambur said, the credit reporting agency must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months.

“You can also ask that a corrected copy of your report be sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes,” he said.

If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports, Panambur said.

As a last resort, you may have to hire a lawyer and take legal recourse to correct the error, he said.

Here’s more on how to file a dispute.

Email your questions to moc.p1571515149leHye1571515149noMJN1571515149@ksA1571515149.

This story was originally published July 4, 2019.

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