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Help! Late Payments Are Hurting My Credit… But They Aren’t Mine

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A reader, “DJM,” did what we here at Credit.com often suggest: checked his credit report. (Consumers can get their credit reports for free once a year.) He found the results to be discouraging:

Listed on my credit report are delinquencies on credit cards that I am only an authorized user and not responsible for the debt. Can I get these removed from my report?

If you’re looking to build or rebuild credit, becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card can help you to establish a credit history, but that strategy will help only if the primary user has a good credit record. DJM has the opposite problem. However, resolving it shouldn’t be difficult.

To have the delinquencies removed, DJM will need to go through the dispute process, says Equifax spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti. That can be done online or by postal mail. Experian & TransUnion have a similar process. “All the authorized user has to do is dispute as ‘not mine’. The tradeline will be automatically and immediately removed and will not show from then on. They will still be able to use the card — it will just not be reported,” TransUnion spokesman David Blumberg said in an email.

It’s a good idea to dispute with all three credit reporting agencies because the late payments are likely to be on all three reports. Griffanti said the change should appear within a month, after the agency has investigated and resolved the dispute.

As frustrating as it can be to discover a blemish on your credit report, as DJM did, it’s good credit hygiene to face these problems head-on. Cleaning up an error early can help you avoid bigger problems down the road. It’s also a good idea to check your other credit data, including credit scores, which you can do for free monthly on Credit.com. When you give someone — a potential employer, for example — permission to look at your credit report, you’ll know what they’ll see if you’ve pulled your own credit report. Likewise, if you check your credit scores regularly, you have an idea of where they are heading and why — and you can make informed choices about applying for credit.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

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