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Disputing Errors on Credit Reports

 

Disputing an Error on Your Credit Report

There can be mistakes on your credit reports.  The only way to know if there are mistakes is to get and review your reports regularly—at least once per year.

If you do find a mistake, it’s important to get that error corrected.  Why?  Mistakes could bring your credits scores down.  Mistakes make your credit history look bad.

No one will fix errors on your credit report for you. It’s your responsibility to let both the credit reporting agencies and the information provider (the person, business, or other organization that providing misinformation) know there is an error.  Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, they are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information.

You can dispute an error using online forms on the websites of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  However, many financial counselors and coaches recommend sending a letter certified mail, return receipt requested.  This to ensures you have a paper trail of when the credit reporting agency received your dispute.  Why is this important?  Credit reporting agencies must investigate your dispute within 30 days unless they consider the dispute frivolous.  The credit report agencies must also send the information to the individual, business, or organization that provided the incorrect or incomplete information.  These information providers must investigate your claims and report back to the credit-reporting agency.

The letter you send should including the following information:

  • Your complete name and address
  • A clear description of each item you are disputing and the reason for the dispute
  • A request that the information be corrected or removed

You can also include copies—not originals—of documents that support your claim.  For example:

  • A receipt
  • A copy of a cancelled check
  • Evidence of an electronic funds transfer (EFT) payment

You may also want to include a copy of the credit report with the error(s) highlighted or circled.

Once the investigation is complete, the credit-reporting agency must notify you of the results in writing. They must include a free copy of your credit report with the inaccurate information corrected.  This report does not count as your free annual report.  Once an item is changed or deleted, it can’t be put back in your file unless the information provider can verify the information is correct.

You can request that the credit-reporting agency send notice of the correction to any individual or business that received your report in the past six months. If someone reviewed your credit report for employment purposes, this information can be sent to anyone that considered the information during the past two years.

Tools to Help

Disputing Errors on Your Credit Report

Step-by-Step instructions for disputing errors on your credit report.

Download the Worksheet

Example Letter Disputing Incorrect Entry

This example from the Federal Trade Commission will help you contact credit reporting agencies to dispute incorrect charges

Learn More

Understanding the Dispute Process

Learn how to dispute an entry on your credit report.

Learn more

Common Errors in Credit Reports

A list of common errors in credit reports

Learn more

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What You Can Do Right Now

Information is great. But taking small steps now can lead to big changes.
  • Today
  • Get your credit reports.
  • Review your credit reports.
  • Circle or highlight any errors on your credit reports.
  • Next Week
  • File a dispute for errors you have found with the credit-reporting agency.
  • Consider filing a dispute with the information furnisher, too.
  • During the Next Few Months
  • The credit-reporting agency should investigate your dispute within 30 days. Keep track of this on a calendar.
  • If your dispute is valid, check to make sure this change in made in ALL of your credit reports.
  • Periodically check your reports to ensure that the information was not reinserted.
  • Make sure you keep records related to your dispute, especially if your dispute is difficult to resolve.