Georgia ranks 9th nationwide in most-complained about credit rep - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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Georgia ranks 9th nationwide in most-complained about credit reporting agencies report

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Georgia is on a top 10 list that does not bode well for credit reporting agencies. Nationally, the state ranks 9th, per capita, when it comes to complaints filed against credit reporting agencies.

Several national and state-conducted studies have found millions of Americans have serious errors on their credit reports. More than 10,000 grievances have been filed using a national public complaints database. A new study by the Georgia PIRG Education Fund looks into what might be causing the problems.

Equifax, TransUnion and Experian are known as "The Big 3" credit reporting agencies and they also account for 96 percent of all complaints in that area. Since 2012, 367 grievances have been lodged in Georgia. For every 100,000 people there are nearly 4 complaints. In Alabama there have been 108 complaints; about two per capita.

In both states, Equifax registers the most disgruntled customers. Rob Pitts, program director for Consumer Credit Counseling Service, is not surprised. "Equifax is a leader in the south. They do a lot of business in this region so it would stand to reason they have the most complaints," Pitts said.

The study showed 65 percent of "the Big 3" problems stem from incorrect information on a credit report. Pitts said, "It could be anything from accounts that don't belong to you to somebody with just a similar name."

Out of the incorrect information complaints, the majority, 2,600, deal with account status. The report may show an account being open when it's really closed or delinquent when it's actually current. Eighteen-hundred grievances allege someone else's information appears on their report.

"You got to understand, credit bureaus just collect information. They don't verify it, it is just given to them and they report is as something and if something wrong is entered somewhere along the system it will show up on the credit bureau." Pitts said it is up to individuals to make sure all the information is correct. He also said it is important to check your credit report every 4 months using Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Each agency allows one free report a year. Georgia residents get two free reports from each company annually.

Credit scores impact loan interest rates, insurance, whether someone can buy or rent a home and even employment. Bankruptcy, liens, judgments and an abundance of credit cards and debt all lower your score. "The most important part of the algorithm is paying your bills on time. it's 35 percent. If you pay your bills on time that's the most important thing," Pitts said.

If you notice an error on your credit report, Pitts said immediately dispute it, in writing, with each credit bureau. He suggests using certified mail. The agency will have 30 days to respond to it.

The Consumer Credit Counseling Service located at 1350 15th Avenue in Columbus offers free assistance with credit reports.Their contact number is 706-327-3239.

To get a free copy of your credit report visit the annual credit report website.

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Sydney joined the WRBL news team in December 2011 after working as a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. More>>

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