And with ecommerce transactions becoming more and more common right along with significant data breaches, identity theft rates are only increasing. The number of documented data breaches increased from 614 in 2013 to 1,579 in 2017. Whatever the source, mistakes in a credit report can have devastating effects on a consumer’s ability to access credit.
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Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), credit bureaus have 30 to 45 days to investigate a disputed claim. If they can’t verify it within that time, they must remove the entry. For example, if you file a dispute with a credit bureau over a late payment and your creditor can’t verify the information, the bureau must remove that late payment from your credit report. For payments less than 90 days late, you can request a goodwill adjustment from your creditor and set up payments to prevent further damage to your credit history.
If you find information that is incorrect, you can file a dispute. Remember too, that items on your credit report that you don't recognize could also be potential signs of fraudulent activity — someone working to secure credit in your name for their own use. Make sure you're clear on items that could potentially be fraudulent, versus those that may simply be inaccurate.