If you’ve spotted an error on your credit report, you should take immediate steps to correct the inaccuracy. An error on your credit report could lead to lower credit score and impact your ability to open a new credit account or get a loan. Here are steps you can take to ask the credit bureaus to remove incorrect black marks from your credit.
Your credit score isn’t just a number on paper. It’s a door to opportunity, from jobs to credit cards to loans. And, the higher your score, the wider that door opens. Your credit score calculation is based on several factors in your credit report: length of credit history, amounts owed, new credit, credit mix, and payment history. Banks use versions of these scores to make lending decisions. That means that the advantages of good credit factor in to almost every aspect of your life, whether you’re hoping to purchase your first car or get approved for a loan to start your small business. Here’s how a high credit score positively impacts your life:
Isn’t festive season the best time to cash on impulse? Consumers are already spending heavily either shopping, taking a holiday or planning a lifestyle upgrade. That’s why discounted loan advertisements become pretty hard to avoid! Before you opt for the festive schemes, offers and loan discounts, just keep your credit score and this quick read to in mind!
What’s in it for me?
Festive loans give you special waivers in the processing fees or lower interest rates for the loan tenure. Banks tie-up with several merchant segments like travel, lifestyle, automobile, real-estate, etc. to get you quick disbursement on loans for travel & holiday packages, home appliances, fashion, electronics, and accessories! Banks are thrilled to offer personal loans or credit cards within a day since they are unsecured, i.e. do not require collateral, which makes them easy to offer!
How does it work?
Loans are for a genuine requirement and a liability that needs to be paid back. The festive offers do make a lucrative bet, but make sure you read the underlying terms and conditions before riding on the debt wagon.
Related Read: What is a no-cost EMI and does it work in your benefit?
Need to Know!
Recently, RBI has clarified that the term “Zero interest” or “No-cost EMI” does not exist as banks or lenders only earn from the interest rates. So, they either charge you a lump sum when you are availing the loan, or give you a higher monthly EMI, perhaps charge you a higher processing fee. You will find kiosks outside banks offering ‘quick loans’, requesting you to fill up the application forms.
When you apply for a loan, the lender has the authority to pull out your credit report to check your loan eligibility. This is called a ‘hard inquiry’ and can knock off a few points of your score. If you do have to borrow this festival, make sure you don’t apply for several festive loans at once, anticipating which one will go through!
Good to Know!
Millennials today survive on debt, quite literally! Either with an ongoing car loan or a home loan, or at least a credit card. Paying in EMI’s instead of a chunk out of your corpus seems easier to sustain your lifestyle needs, but it’s important to know that you only own things when you pay them off completely. In the festive mood, loan discounts may seem like a savior in need, especially with living costs going through the roof. Ensure you do thorough research on the lender options and the type of loans you can apply for before you make a hurried application.
What should I do?
It is not uncommon to make big purchases during the festive season but it is essential that you know how much you need.
Analyze your personal financial goals and the benefits it actually gives you instead of making low prices the sole reason to apply for it. Do you really need a car upgrade? Is a foreign journey on your to-do list? Have you been waiting to buy a home? Having a credit mix of loans, credit cards and other credit lines can boost your credit score and thus your creditworthiness but only if you make timely repayments on them. Hence, planning your finances for the credit repayment tenure is the first step towards managing debt well.
Take a quick informative tour online and prepare the documents you require for the loan application like income statements, tax receipts, and identity proofs. Check how much income you are left with after you pay your credit card dues, household expenses and taxes to estimate loan EMIs beforehand, making it easier to pay off without hurting your monthly budget!
Once you are ready with your research on lenders and loan types, give your credit score a quick check to confirm loan eligibility that’ll help you avail it effortlessly. A credit score is an important tool that lets lenders study your credit history through an automated report that determines your creditworthiness. If you are worried about a low score, here are ways to repair it before you apply.
If your credit history is not where you want it to be, you’re not alone. Improving your credit scores takes time, but the sooner you address the issues that might be dragging them down, the faster your credit scores will go up. You can increase your scores by taking several steps, like establishing a track record of paying EMI’s and card dues on time, paying down debt and checking your CRIF credit report regularly.
Your credit score is a reflection of your credit habits as it provides the details on your outstanding loans and credit cards along with the outstanding and overdue amounts. Your credit score can be accessed through any of the following modes:
1. By Self – You can check your credit score through the websites of any of the 4 credit information companies operating in India. CRIF Highmark is the youngest of the lot and you can access your credit report by visiting the link – http://cir.crifhighmark.com. You can check your credit score through CRIF HighMark for free once every year.
2. By a Bank/ Lending Institution – Banks generally have an access to the credit information database being maintained by Credit Information Companies. So, when you apply for a loan or a credit with a bank or a lending institution, it will typically access your credit report to know your credit behavior and the health of your outstanding loans and credit cards.
3. By Loan Marketplaces – Loan marketplaces like BankBazaar, PaisaBazaar, IndiaLends etc. generally offer consumers a facility to compare and apply for loans or credit cards from different banks through a single application. In this process, these platforms may also access your credit score to check your eligibility for loans/ credit cards. They may also offer you to check your credit score free from the credit information companies they would have partnered with. Since the facility is offered free, many visitors may be tempted to use such services. However, it must be noted that such marketplaces may retain your data that you provided directly on their website as well as what is sourced from credit information companies with your due consent. All such data can be directed to remarket more products to you in future, and also to build internal analytics. As such, you must also carefully read the terms and conditions that you consent on such lending marketplaces to know how and what will they use your data for.
With regards to the safety of your data, it is worth noting that your data is generally transmitted through secure servers in an encrypted form when your credit score is checked across the portals. As such, the information kept in credit databases with credit information companies or in transit while being checked by banks/ lending marketplaces is safe and secure.
However, you must also be aware that there is always a difference between checking your score by self or through banks. Whenever your credit score is checked for a prospective loan/ credit card application, it is also recorded as a credit inquiry in your credit report. A higher number of credit inquiries reflects you as a credit-hungry individual to the bank and also has an adverse impact on your credit score. Instead, you may check your credit score directly through credit information companies and avoid any adverse impact on your credit score. Check your credit score with CRIF HighMark for free once in a year by clicking here.
If you have never ever availed any loans or possessed any credit cards in India, you will not have your records with any of the credit information companies – therefore no credit history. As such, when you will try to check your credit score from any of the four credit bureaus, you will get a score of -1 or no score (also called No Hit or NH cases).
Is -1 or NH bad? If one doesn’t have any credit history, a bank or a NBFC lacks information from one credible source so it becomes difficult for them to take a decision on your loan application. The lender, in absence of a credit score, will use alternative mechanisms to assess your application and therefore may take longer to decide or may even reject an application. Having a -1 or NH score isn’t bad by itself, it is a genuine condition for a youngster who is starting with the first job or a housewife who is looking to be a co-applicant for a housing loan with her husband.
For a person with no credit history in India, what’s the best way to get started?
If you would like to build your own credit history and get yourself a credit score, you will have to begin by taking a loan or a credit card and use it effectively over some time. Here are a few simple ways by which you can build a credit history:
1. Apply for a Credit Card with your Existing Bank: You can apply for a credit card with the bank with which you have an existing relationship like your salary account. As the banks are generally inclined to offer additional facilities to its existing customers, the absence of a credit history may not bother much to them. Go for the most basic credit card on offer to begin with. However, you may get a lower credit limit in such cases, but nevertheless, your credit card is there and so is your credit history. Further, once you have a credit card, make sure to pay off the credit card dues well in time as regular repayments will translate into a better score for you. Do not spend too much, limit your utilization to 30–40% of the card limit.
2. Apply for a Secured Credit Card: if the first option doesn’t work out for you, you can deposit a small amount say 30K into a Bank FD, and apply for a “secured” credit card against the deposit. The bank will assign you a credit limit of up to 80% of the deposit amount. This is generally a good starting point for even self-employed and professionals.
3. Apply for a Small Ticket White Goods Loan: You may also purchase your next smartphone, TV or laptop on EMI by applying for a small consumer durable loan/ EMI loan. The financiers are available on most large format electronics retail stores as well as on the online e-commerce websites. Consumer Durable Financiers are more comfortable approving loans for customers with no credit history, and the approvals are also almost instant. The good news is that these loans are usually zero cost EMI loans.
4. Apply for a Secured Personal Loan: Most of the banks can offer you a personal loan against the security of your existing term deposits (loan against deposits). Since the term deposit is generally enough to cover the personal loan amount along with interest for a reasonable period, banks may not check your credit report and sanction you a personal loan. Usually, such personal loans may be lighter on your pockets too, as such loans typically carry an interest rate of your FD rate plus 1-2% and FD rates are presented in the range of 6-8%. So, the effective interest rate can be 7-10%.
As they say, ‘Rome was not built in a day, neither will your credit history be.’ It may take six months or even a year depending on how well and often you use and handle credit. However, ensure regular repayments of your loans and credit cards, so that you have a good credit score, reflecting good credit habits. Further, once you have a credit history and a credit score, make sure that you manage your loans and credit cards smartly.
Uh oh…remember when a 650 credit score was deemed sufficient to secure the best rates and terms on credit cards, auto loans, home loans, and so on?Well, not anymore! You can also the join the club of high credit score by simply following the practices listed on our infographic and climb all the way to become an achiever.
An error on your credit report could lead to lower credit scores and impact your chances to open a new credit account or get a loan. Errors can occur surprisingly easily on your credit history. It may be that your handwriting was hard to read on a loan application, that a lender mixed up account information, or that you were a victim of identity theft. With so many ways an error can occur, it is indispensable to check your free credit score for accuracy periodically ― not just when you need a loan.
However, due to a lack of understanding of credit, it can be difficult to determine what factors may affect your credit score and the steps you need to undertake to dispute your credit report. This is also one of the reasons to educate yourself with the concepts of credit score and credit history. Once you’re familiar with your score, if you do find an error in your credit report there is thankfully a way to dispute the inaccuracy.
The fastest way to start a credit report ‘dispute’ and check your status is by applying online. Disputes are 100% free and require no fee. However, credit reporting agencies are used to receiving many disputes on a daily basis, mostly from people who are just trying to get something legit removed from their reports. Hence, you must be sure about your point and support your dispute with documents.
Following these steps, you may be able to win your credit dispute and get your credit history back on the right track:
Step 1: Download your credit report
First off, you need to download the detailed credit information report from any of the credit bureaus in India such as CRIF High Mark. You are entitled to download one free credit report each year.
Step 2: Inform the credit bureau
Once you are sure about the discrepancy in your report, you have to make it known to the 4 credit bureaus on their respective websites and postal addresses. This information has to be shared in the form of online appeal and in writing via a letter. The letter should clearly contain each item in your report that you dispute. You need to state the facts and explain why you dispute the information and wants it removed or rectified. The letter should be supported with copies of documents verifying your dispute. Always ‘request read receipt’ for your letters.
Step 3: Contact the Lenders
To ensure the errors are resolved at the source, it may also be a good idea to contact the lenders who supplied the incorrect information to the bureaus. Lenders, also known as furnishers, are the companies that provide the information to the credit bureaus. They include banks and credit card issuers. You can go to the furnisher and ask them to correct the mistake in case it is apparent that the mistake is rectifiable at their end. But if the error is an identity-related mistake made by a credit bureau, it may not necessary to contact your lenders, you can to the bureau directly.
Step 4: Count 30 days
The credit information companies are required to investigate your claim of dispute which generally lasts at least 30 days. During this time, the item on your credit report which is under dispute will be temporarily removed from your credit report. After they have finished their investigation, the bureau is also required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report if it has now changed. While the process can be time-consuming, it is important to continue to dispute incorrect information on your report that negatively impacts your credit score. You can also ask the credit bureau to include information summarizing the dispute on your credit report so future lenders can see your claims and assess them for themselves.
Step 5: Check your credit report:
Updates to your affected credit reports may take some time to appear. It is dependent on the specific credit bureau’s update cycle and when the lender sends the new information to the credit bureau. If the update doesn’t appear on your credit reports within several months, contact the credit bureaus and the lender to verify it’s reporting your account information to the bureaus.
Credit bureaus aggregate the credit information provided by various banks and financial institutions on a monthly basis and records them in an individual’s credit report. This report has a complete history of your loan and credit card repayments, account usage and outstanding balances. It serves as a basis for the calculation of the credit score. Since banks use credit score and credit report to assess the intent and capacity of a loan applicant, it is necessary for every individual to ensure that the information in the credit report is up to date and accurate.
It is likely that the data reflecting on your credit report is not accurate or not up to date. The bank may have missed sharing all updates on your loan account with the credit bureau. Even if the bank has reported data properly, the credit information company may have missed updating or is yet to update it in your credit report. Such errors or misses on your credit reports can lower your credit score, which could hurt your ability to get new lines of credit or even make the terms of credit more expensive for you. Ultimately, these errors could be costing you money and may force you to postpone your aspirations.
You can begin reviewing your credit report by getting a copy of it yourself from the website of any of the four credit bureaus in India. Checking your own credit report or credit score doesn’t impact your score, so check it without any worry. Further good news is that you can request a free copy of your credit report once in a calendar year from any of these four RBI approved credit bureaus. And if you find errors, you can dispute the errors at no cost to you. Read more about How and When to Dispute Your Credit Information Report here https://blog.crifhighmark.com/how-when-to-dispute-your-credit-information-report/
Once you get your credit reports, review them carefully. You can use the list below to check for common errors and make sure your credit reports are accurate and up to date.
Are Closed Accounts Still Open?
A closed account means you have positively paid back all the loan or credit card dues, and the account is not going to see any future activity. While an open account is an indication that you still have some amount to be paid back or you have the credit line still available to you for use. Having old lines, those which should have been closed otherwise, on your credit report showing as open will show higher number of lines and higher credit amount available to you. This can impact your credit score and therefore your eligibility for a loan. So, if the closed accounts are being shown as open, it is time you report this error with documentary proof so that you can get it rectified at the earliest.
Are All Accounts up to Date?
Do check the last reported date on all your accounts. If the account is marked closed, the last reported date will be same or closer to date of closure. If the account is marked open, the last reported date should be within last 30-60 days. If any of the records are not updated, contact the credit bureau as well as the bank concerned. An out of date record will not present correct picture to another bank and may also impact your credit score.
Is There an Account That Does Not Belong to You?
If you notice any credit account under your name that you are unaware of, report immediately and get it removed from your credit report. This could be because of wrong reporting by the bank or an error at the credit bureau. Take it up with the credit bureau, and it will help you get it resolved.
Is There a Record of an Account Being Shown as Delinquent?
Delinquent accounts are those accounts which are way past their dates of payment. Typically, delinquency is reported as number of days past due date (DPD) which are shown for last 36 months for every credit line. For credit card accounts, delinquency is reported when the minimum amount due is not paid. Lenders might give you a leeway of a few days before reporting the delinquency. More than 3 months of missing repayments will automatically declare your account as NPA (non-performing asset or non-performing loan). Such accounts can bring a major drop in your credit score and distrust in the eyes of all the lenders. If any account is showing overdue or delinquent (if more than 30 days), review them more carefully. If you have already made the repayment, you must inform the bank to report it to all credit bureaus as well.
Is the Same Debt Being Recorded More Than Once?
Did you know that 30% of your credit score is made of the debts you have taken? The number of debts you have taken matters a lot when it comes to your credit score. More debts in your name will result in difficulty in getting further credit. If your loan account or credit card has been reported twice then you will have fewer opportunities to avail credit. It is also likely that while 2 credit lines are shown, only one is being reflected with good credit history and another one as delinquent. Make sure to check your credit report every time you take a loan from the bank so that there are no such errors on your report.
Is it About Incorrect Credit Limits?
To maintain your credit score, the credit utilization ratio should be a point of significance to you. When it goes high it shows an individual’s higher dependence on credit. Makes sure the credit limit on your credit card is accurate and not lower than the actual limit. Report to Credit Bureaus like CRIF to rectify in case if it is reported wrongly.
Incorrect Balances in your Loan Accounts?
If a higher outstanding balance than actual is shown, you may lose out an opportunity to avail credit since the bank may assume you to have higher credit available with you than actual. Make sure correct loan account balances are reported in your credit report.
Are there any Identity Errors on your report?
Identity errors may lead to many more errors on your credit report and credit score. These occur because of wrong information reported by the bank, the mismatch between PAN and your name or due to identity theft.
• Wrong Information: When there is a mix-up in two customers at the bank end or at the credit bureau end, loan and credit card information pertaining to some other person may have been reported against your name. The mix up could be due to same phone numbers, or mix-up in PAN or similar names/addresses etc.
• Mismatch: This could be particularly possible if you have undergone a name change in your PAN account or use different forms of a name like only with initials for certain accounts and expanded forms in other accounts.
• Identity Fraud: Fraud on your report is the most serious concern. Fraud means that someone is using your personal information to open accounts in your name. If you suspect identity fraud on your report, you will need to alert the bank concerned and the credit information company. Once it is established as a fraud, it should also be reported to the local police.
Achieving a good credit score is an iceberg. There is what people see on the surface: lower interest rates, faster loan approvals, enhanced credit limit. Then there is what people don’t see hiding below the surface: consistency in payments, maintaining a low credit utilization ratio, limiting loan applications, tracking credit report regularly. The key to the ‘Credit Score Illusion’ is creating balance in your financial life. Take a look at our image and note down the things that resonate with you!