When to challenge an error on your credit report?

Reader’s Question

My fiance and I are planning to buy a house within the next few months. We recently submitted a preapproval application with our bank and I finally convinced him to get a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. We discovered that there is a incorrect item on his report from about 7 years ago that is due to go off his report in April (approximately the same time that we’re hoping to close on a house). It’s for an unpaid utility bill for less than $50 that is listed as being written off. My fiance has documentation to prove that the utility company was in error and did not cancel his account when he moved as requested and the charges were not his (and he send multiple letters to that effect at the time they were hassling him about payment). Is it worth our effort to try to get this item off his credit reports? He has no other potentially negative items and I have “perfect” credit. Should we just let it fall off his report?



(by the way — to the reader who sent in this question, your reply email address wasn’t working, so I hope this response finds you)

Hi [name removed] –
I would write a short letter to each of the credit agencies, simply stating something such as…

“To Whom It May Concern –
After reviewing my credit report recently, I noticed the following inaccuracy: Utility Company Inc, Acc # XXXX. I dispute this as inaccurate and kindly ask that you remove it.”

I am quite certain since it’s so old you’ll have no problems getting it removed. It’s doubtful the utility company will take the time to verify such an old account (if they even can, which it sounds like they can’t).

I wouldn’t just wait for it to fall off right before a home purchase –you don’t want it to affect your mortgage interest rate.


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