Q. Eight months ago, I applied for an extension on the car loan I got through a national auto-financing company. I ended up having to fax the extension forms three times before the company finally received them and approved them. Later, I checked my credit report, and it showed that I was past due on my car payments. However, my bank statement shows that I made my payments on time. I called the auto-financing company and they agreed to correct the error. That was more than three months ago. My credit report still shows late car payments. What should I do?

A. First, did you keep copies of the approved extension paperwork and did you keep a record of each time you contacted the company? When you’re dealing with a large company, you rarely talk to the same person time and time again. In addition, big companies’ staffs change, and the person who handled your loan extension may no longer work for the company.

When it comes to something as important as a loan extension, it’s essential to obtain copies of the approved paperwork and to keep a record listing the dates and names of each person you dealt with during the process. If you don’t keep copies of forms or log the calls you make, the company has a difficult time determining if your claim/problem is real or if you are making up a story.

Your first step in resolving the errors is to contact the auto-financing company. If you’ve kept a record of your previous contacts with them, continue to do so. If you haven’t, start now. Keep a log of the date and time you call the company, the name, phone extension and email address of the person you talked to, and what they told you.

If you kept a copy of your approved loan extension paperwork, it should be a simple process to fax the company the information and get them to correct what they’ve sent to the credit-reporting agencies. If you don’t have a copy of the paperwork, look for any kind of supporting documents you do have to support the fact that your loan extension was approved. Make it clear to the auto-financing company that you want your credit reports updated within one to two weeks to show that you were not late with your car payments.

If the representative you talk to is not helpful, ask to speak to a supervisor or manager. Continue to request assistance until you reach someone who can, and who is willing to help you. The more documentation you have, the faster the process should go.

You can also dispute the late-payment errors on your credit report with each of the three national credit-reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each agency has its own process you’ll need to follow. Go to each agency’s website to find directions for disputing errors.

Then, three weeks after contacting the auto-financing company, check your credit reports to ensure the correction has been made. If your credit report still is not corrected, be sure to follow the dispute process for each credit-reporting agency. Also check back with the auto-financing company to see when the correction will be made.

If, after all your efforts, you are unable to get the company to make changes, you have the options of filing complaints with the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Affairs (http://atg.sd.gov/TheOffice/Consumers.aspx) or with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/).

Keeping good records is always important, but especially when you run into problems or need to correct errors. Good luck.

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills, a United Way member agency. For more information, email credit@cccsbh.com.

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