Before you pursue financing on a new house, it’s vital to check your credit report for any mistakes or missteps, because this will greatly impact your future loan and interest rate. Fortunately, federal law states you have a right to a free credit report every year from a reporting agency. This allows you to fix, adjust, or address any errors that may impact your loan.

Errors aren’t always a black spot on your report. For example, a misspelled name or incorrect street address. Mixed files or a re-aging of old debts are other common mishaps. However, it can become very serious quickly if a third party has stolen your social security number and created new debt in your name. If you discover this has happened to you, immediately request a freeze on your account to prevent further fraud.

There are three major reporting agencies called Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each of them will allow you to fix anything that needs to be addressed before seeking a loan.

Here’s what you should do to dispute mistakes on your credit report:

Contact any of the three credit bureaus. Gather any documentation needed to support your case and send a physical letter to the bureau describing the error. Send everything through the mail with a return receipt requested.

Try to be as clear as possible so they know exactly what the issue is, and make a copy for your own records. By law they must investigate the claim within 30 days of receiving the notice. In a typical case, they will delete or edit the disputed points and then contact you about the change, no problem!

Finding an error isn’t uncommon, but it can still impact your borrowing capabilities. If you think your bank is the source of the problem, contact them directly and set up a meeting with one of their representatives. Again, keep track of all communications and make sure you document what the issue is and how it can be rectified.