Disputing Credit Report Errors
Your credit report contains information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies.
Some financial advisors and consumer advocates suggest that you review your credit report periodically. Why?
Getting Your Credit Report
Under the FCRA, both the consumer reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a consumer reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under this law, contact the consumer reporting company and the information provider.
Credit Reporting Errors 101
Step 1: Look for inaccuracies
Order your credit reports and credit scores from Equifax, Experian and Trans Union online. Print each report and review it carefully. Highlight any inaccurate information and negative records that could be harming your credit scores. Check when the negative records are set to expire using this guide:
You should use this expiration information to determine what items on your credit report are really inaccurate. Along with expired records, look for fraudulent accounts, crossed records, and data errors on your report.
Step 2: Write a dispute
Once you have determined exactly what is inaccurate on your credit reports, it’s time to write a letter of dispute to the credit bureaus. You will need to send a letter to each of the three credit bureaus to have the information investigated and corrected on each of your credit reports. Even though all three bureaus now offer online disputing, it is a good idea to still write your dispute in letter form for your records. You can use this template to put together your dispute letter:
(City, state, and zip code)
Dispute Investigation Department
(City, state, and zip code)
Dispute Investigation Department,
I am writing to inform you that there is inaccurate information on my credit report. The following data is not correct and should be updated:
(List each inaccuracy on your credit report. Include exactly why it is in inaccurate and what it should be replaced with)
I have attached a marked copy of my credit report to assist your investigation. In addition, I have included (list the copies of account records, statements, and communication records). Please feel free to call me at (phone number) if you have any questions or need additional information to resolved this dispute.
Thank you for your assistance with this matter,
(Your full name)
(Social Security number)
Step 3: File a dispute
Submitting your dispute by mail is best, but only Equifax and TransUnion allow this kind of dispute. Experian requires all disputes to be submitted online. For phone or online disputes, you may need to provide the identification number located at the bottom of your recent credit report. Using the information you put together in Step 2, submit your dispute to each of the credit bureaus:
Step 4: Track the results
The credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate your dispute and make changes to your credit report. Once this investigation is complete, they will send you a letter that includes information about what was and was not updated on your credit reports. If you were unable to get an error corrected, try submitting your dispute again with new documentation. You can also try working directly with the company that reported the error to have the matter corrected.
Tell the creditor or other information provider, in writing, that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company, it must include a notice of your dispute. And if you are correct — that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate — the information provider may not report it again.