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When Victoria Ross’ husband of 40 years died of a heart attack last August, she had to push through her grief to focus on her finances, sell the family home, and downsize into a condo. When she thought everything was settled, the Wintergreen, Va., resident applied for a car loan.

But a major error in one of her credit reports, from TransUnion, stopped her in her tracks.

It mistakenly showed that a PayPal credit card she’d paid off still had a balance due of about $1,200—an error she said hurt her credit score. The other two credit bureaus, Equifax and Experian, correctly reported the account as paid off and closed, she says.

TransUnion’s mistake meant she didn’t qualify for a low-interest rate at the car dealership. “Instead, they gave me a 12 percent rate, which would have increased my monthly payment by more than $100,” Ross says. “I’m on a fixed income, so every dollar counts.”

Who notes this guide describes common errors consumers might find, the impact they might have and how to dispute and resolve problems so that you can take advantage of all the credit power you have earned...

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