Consumers use credit in many ways. If you finance a home, a lender will extend you credit in the form of a mortgage loan. When you obtain a credit card, the issuer of that card will make available to you a line of credit that must be repaid. Lenders report your credit accounts, including your personal information, to the credit bureaus. Bureaus distil this data into a credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits errors on a report and gives you the right to update the personal information that appears on the report.
View your credit report online. You can order one free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com from each of the bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
Look over the "Personal Information" section. Check to see if the erroneous address appears on the report. Also verify that your name and Social Security number are listed accurately.
Write a dispute letter. In this letter, specify that you would like to update the address on your credit report. Include your name, Social Security number and a copy of your driver's license or a utility bill that shows your new address. To change your address, you must include this supporting documentation, according to Equifax.
Wait to hear back from the bureau. The bureau will make the correction and send you the results within 30 to 45 days. Since you filed your dispute by mail, the bureau will also send the results to you by mail. You will also receive an updated copy of your credit report that shows the correction of your address.
Check your "Personal Information" section for the appearance of an unknown alias, name or address. This could indicate identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft was the number-one consumer complaint of 2009. The law that guarantees consumers a free credit report is the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), enacted by Congress in 2003. The three bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion jointly created annualcreditreport.com as a way to comply with this mandate and ensure consumers can order all three reports at one location.
Avoid websites that offer a free credit report but ask for a credit card number. These sites sign you up for a trial offer of credit monitoring. In 2005, the Federal Trade Commission sued Experian, owners of the website freecreditreport.com, for deceptive advertising. Experian settled the suit and agreed to compensate affected consumers. Never order your credit report using a shared or public computer. Only use computers that you trust are safe.