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Monitoring credit reports for inaccuracies

As many Pennsylvania residents may know, making payments on time and using credit judiciously influences its availability in the future. It may determine whether purchasing a motor vehicle or a new home with credit is possible. Before extending credit, lenders examine credit reports, and an uncomplimentary entry may make the difference between receiving a loan or not.

A problem consumers often face is inaccurate information. In 2012, a review of 30,000 complaints noting problems with credit reports showed that less than 50 percent were resolved. The errors were major entries such as a debtor's date of birth or name. The Federal Trade Commission released information in early 2015 showing that, after a complaint was filed, some false information remained on at least one major report.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently initiated changes in the way the three main credit bureaus report information. For instance, medical debt may hinder obtaining credit although it results from illness and not consumer failure at debt management. Reportedly, 50 percent of credit collection reports result from medical debt. For 20 percent of consumers, this results in a damaged credit score. On occasion, the insurer and not the consumer failed to pay a bill. Under new rules, medical debts are not added to one's credit history for 180 days, allowing more time for correction or insurer payments.

One other change involves non-payment for things such as traffic tickets. In the past, this might have been reported on a consumer's credit report. This is no longer permissible unless a collection agency is handling the debt.

When a consumer is faced with false information on a credit report, he or she may find it helpful to speak with an attorney. The attorney may help by reviewing the report and provide guidance into correcting it.

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