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Date published: 2/12/2013
AP Business Writer
WASHINGTON--One in four consumers found an error in a credit report issued by a major agency, according to a government study released Monday.
The Federal Trade Commission study also said that 5 percent of the consumers identified errors in their reports that could lead to them paying more for mortgages, auto loans or other financial products.
The study looked at reports for 1,001 consumers issued by the three major agencies--Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The FTC hired researchers to help consumers identify potential errors. The study closely matches the results of a yearlong investigation by The Columbus Dispatch. The Ohio newspaper's report last year said that thousands of consumers were denied loans because of errors on their credit reports.
The FTC says the findings underline the importance of consumers checking their credit reports.
Consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report each year from each of the three reporting agencies.
The FTC study also found that 20 percent of consumers had an error that was corrected by a reporting agency after the consumer disputed it. About 10 percent of consumers had their credit score changed after a reporting agency corrected errors in their reports.
The Consumer Data Industry Association, which represents the credit reporting agencies and other data companies, said the FTC study showed that the proportion of credit reports with errors that could increase the rates consumers would pay was small.
The study confirmed "that credit reports are highly accurate, and play a critical role in facilitating access to fair and affordable consumer credit," the association said in a statement.
Experian, a British company with international operations, also said in a statement the study confirms that consumer credit reports are predominantly accurate. At the same time Experian said it "is not satisfied with this result and we continue to work toward ensuring credit reports are 100 percent accurate."
ERRORS HAPPEN: A Federal Trade Commission study has found that one in four consumers surveyed discovered an error in at least one of their reports from the three major credit bureaus. WHAT TO DO: Get a copy of your report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Consumers are entitled to one free report every 12 months from each. SEEK CORRECTION: If you believe there's an error in your credit report, file a dispute with the credit bureaus. Once a dispute is received, credit bureaus are required to respond within 30 days.