WASHINGTON -- About 1 in every 20 consumers have significant errors on their credit reports that could cause them to pay more for auto loans and other financial products, according to a Federal Trade Commission report released Monday.
The study also found that about 26 percent of the approximately 200 million people covered by the U.S. credit reporting industry had at least one potentially material error on one of their three credit reports.
And 4 out of 5 people who took steps to fix errors with one of the three major credit reporting companies -- Experian Information Solutions Inc., Equifax Inc. and TransUnion -- got their credit report changed.
The findings show consumers need to closely monitor their credit reports, the agency said.
These are eye-opening numbers for American consumers, said Howard Shelanski, director of the agency's economics bureau. The results of this first-of-its-kind study make it clear that consumers should check their credit reports regularly. If they don't, they are potentially putting their pocketbooks at risk.
Agency officials noted that federal law allows consumers to get a free credit report once every year from the three major firms. The website to obtain the reports is www.annualcreditreport.com.
Your credit report has information about your finances and your bill-paying history, so it's important to make sure it's accurate, said Charles Harwood, acting director of the agency's consumer protection bureau.