Everyone has three major credit reports: from TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, respectively. And it’s extremely important to make sure that yours are accurate. All credit scores are based on these reports, which means mistakes can impact the credit card and loan terms you’re able to qualify for, not to mention where you live and what kind of car you drive. They can even affect your job prospects, too.

Credit report errors are also far too common. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that roughly 1 in 5 people (or about 42 million Americans) have an inaccurate credit report. Other studies peg the mistake rate at as high as 90 percent. And all it can take is a single credit report inaccuracy for a lender, landlord or other decision-maker to decide you aren’t trustworthy enough.

That is why it’s wise to review your credit report for errors on a regular basis.

Professor Sharon Lassar

Sharon Lassar, professor of accountancy, was interviewed by WalletHub about how to fix your credit report.

Do you think the average person is aware of his or her ability to dispute credit report inaccuracies?

Yes, I believe that public education about credit reporting has generally been effective. Many landlords ask prospective tenants to include their credit scores with their housing applications, for example. People seem to understand the need to keep their credit score as high as possible and the people I interact with are aware of their right to a free annual credit report.

By and large, do you think people tend to be overly hesitant or too eager to dispute items on their credit reports?

Neither. Individuals might be somewhat hesitant (but not overly so) to dispute items on their credit report because it takes some time to do so. If the erroneous item is a minor item, some may choose to simply ignore it unless it is having a negative impact on their credit score at a time when they need a high credit score, like when they are arranging credit for a major purchase.

Do you think credit bureaus make mistakes at an unacceptable rate?

No. I believe credit bureaus generally do a good job at tracking activity and associating the activity with the right person.

What do you think is the biggest impediment people face in filing a dispute?

The biggest impediment to filing a dispute is time. It takes time to request and file the appropriate paperwork to dispute an item on a credit report.