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How to Dispute Credit Report Errors: A Simple Guide

If you identify an error on your credit report, explain in writing what you think is wrong and why, and include copies of documents that support your dispute.

Errors in credit reports can have serious consequences, potentially affecting loan approvals, interest rates, and even job opportunities. It’s crucial to ensure your credit report’s accuracy and correct errors.

What are Credit Reports?

Credit reports contain personal information, credit account details, payment history, credit inquiries, public records, and collections information. They are used by lenders, landlords, and employers to assess an individual’s creditworthiness and financial responsibility.

Why Credit Report Errors Occur

Credit report errors can occur for various reasons, including:

  1. Data Entry Mistakes: Creditors may report inaccurate information to the credit bureaus due to clerical errors or system glitches.
  2. Identity Theft: Fraudulent activity, such as identity theft, can result in unauthorized accounts or transactions appearing on your credit report.
  3. Mixed Files: Occasionally, information from another person’s credit file may mistakenly appear on your credit report, leading to errors.
  4. Outdated Information: Failure to update account status or payment history can result in outdated information being reported on your credit report.

Importance of Accurate Credit Reports

Accurate credit reports are essential for several reasons:

  1. Lending Decisions: Lenders rely on credit reports to assess your creditworthiness and determine whether to approve your loan application and at what interest rate.
  2. Financial Planning: Your credit report provides valuable insights into your financial health, helping you identify areas for improvement and plan for your financial future.
  3. Identity Theft Detection: Monitoring your credit report enables you to detect and address unauthorized activity or potential identity theft promptly.
  4. Rental and Employment Opportunities: Landlords and employers may review your credit report as part of the application process. A clean credit report can increase your chances of securing a rental property or employment.

Request Your Free Credit Report

Request your free credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find inaccurate information, you have the right to request changes. The credit bureau will contact the lender/creditor and attempt to verify the accuracy of the records. Read more about how to request your free credit report with all three credit bureaus.

Be wary of “experts” who are selling credit repair services or companies that promise to fix your credit. No one can promise to fix your credit. There is simply a process to follow, and you can do the work yourself.

Review Your Credit Report Entirely

Take the time to review your credit report for accuracy. Check the personal information to ensure it’s correct, such as the spelling of your name and the right Social Security Number. Make sure the addresses listed are places you’ve lived.

Go over any public records: collection accounts, liens, etc.

Verify each tradeline. You want to ensure all your accounts are listed and the right information is reported. Things to look for: type of account, status (open or closed), date established, credit limit and balance, and repayment history.

Found inaccuracies in one or multiple areas? Now, it’s time to file your disputes.


How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

The credit bureaus have made it very easy to dispute and check on your disputes online.

Step 1: Request a Copy of Your Credit Report

Obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You are entitled to one free report from each bureau every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Step 2: Review Your Credit Report

Carefully review each section of your credit report for inaccuracies, including personal information, credit accounts, payment history, inquiries, and public records.

Pay close attention to the following areas.

SectionWhat to Look For
Personal InformationCheck for accuracy in your name, address, Social Security Number, and other personal details.
Account InformationLook for bankruptcies, tax liens, judgments, or other public records. Verify accuracy and ensure any resolved issues are correctly reflected.
Public RecordsLook for bankruptcies or other public records. Verify accuracy and ensure any resolved issues are correctly reflected.
InquiriesExamine recent inquiries to ensure they’re legitimate and authorized. Unauthorized inquiries could be indicative of identity theft.
CollectionsCheck for any collection accounts and verify their accuracy. Ensure you recognize the debts and that they’re reported correctly.

Step 3: Identify Errors

Note any errors, discrepancies, or unauthorized accounts or transactions on your credit report.

Create a table or spreadsheet to document any errors or discrepancies you find. Include the following:

Error TypeAccount TypeCreditorError DescriptionAction Needed
Personal Info
Account
Public Record
Inquiry
Collection
  • Error Type: Specify the type of error (e.g., Personal Info, Account, Public Record, Inquiry, Collection).
  • Account Type: Provide the type of account or record affected by the error (e.g., credit card, loan, bankruptcy).
  • Creditor: Name of the creditor or institution associated with the error.
  • Error Description: Briefly describe the error or discrepancy identified.
  • Action Needed: Specify the action required to address the error (e.g., dispute with credit bureau, contact creditor).

Step 4: Gather Supporting Documents

Collect supporting documents validating your dispute, such as billing statements, payment receipts, or correspondence with creditors.

Step 5: File a Dispute

Contact the credit bureau(s) to dispute the errors on your credit report. Clearly identify each error and provide supporting documentation. You can dispute the errors by mail or online. The following sections will show you how.

Step 6: Monitor the Investigation

The credit bureau is required to investigate your dispute and respond within 30 days. Monitor the progress of the investigation and follow up if necessary.

Step 7: Review the Results

Once the investigation is complete, review the results provided by the credit bureau(s). If the errors have been corrected, ensure that your credit report reflects the accurate information.

Step 8: Notify Creditors if Necessary

If the errors involved accounts with specific creditors, inform them of the corrections made to your credit report to ensure that the information is also updated in their records.

Step 9: Continue Monitoring Your Credit

Monitor your credit report regularly to ensure that it remains accurate and up to date. Consider enrolling in credit monitoring services for added protection against identity theft and fraud.

Tip: Keep meticulous records of your review process, including dates, notes, and communication with credit bureaus or creditors. This documentation will be invaluable if you need to escalate disputes or pursue further actions.


Easy Steps to Dispute Credit Report Errors Online

Whenever you dispute a record online or by mail, the credit bureaus are required by law to investigate your claim and delete inaccurate or unverifiable information.

1. Initiate the Dispute Online

When you get your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com, sections of the website are dedicated to disputing inaccurate information. You can also go to the following:

2. Submit Disputes

After submitting, the credit bureaus have 30 days from receipt of the dispute to answer your inquiry. They will provide an answer for each of your disputes, whether favorable or not. If you disagree with any of the answers, you can request a reevaluation by submitting more information that supports your claim.


Dispute Credit Report Errors with the Credit Bureau

If you identify an error on your credit report, explain in writing what you think is wrong and why, and include copies of documents that support your dispute. You can also use CFPB instructions and their template letter as a guide.

If you mail a dispute, your dispute letter should include:

  • Contact information for you, including complete name, address, and telephone number
  • Report confirmation number, if available
  • Clearly identify each mistake, such as an account number for any account you may be disputing
  • Explain why you are disputing the information
  • Request that the information be removed or corrected
  • Enclose a copy of the portion of your credit report that contains the disputed items and circle or highlight the disputed items. Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position.

Send your letter of dispute to credit bureaus by certified mail and ask for a return receipt so that you will have a record of your letter being received.

Easily Contact the Nationwide Credit Bureaus by Mail:

Equifax:

  • By mail: Download the dispute form on the Equifax website.
  • Mail the dispute form with your letter to:

Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30348

To contact: Phone number provided on credit report or (866) 349-5191

Experian:

  • By mail: Use the address provided on your credit report or mail your letter to:

Experian
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013

To contact: Phone number provided on credit report or (888) 397-3742

TransUnion:

  • By mail: Download the dispute form on the TransUnion website
  • Mail the dispute form with your letter to:

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

  • To contact: (800) 916-8800

Remember to keep your original documents and copies of your dispute letters.


What Happens After Disputing Credit Report Errors

Credit reporting companies must investigate your dispute, forward all documents to the furnisher, and report the results to you unless they determine your claim is frivolous.

Frivolous

If the consumer reporting company or furnisher determines that your dispute is frivolous, it can choose not to investigate the dispute so long as it sends you a notice within five days saying it has made such a determination.

Correction

If the furnisher corrects your information after your dispute, it must notify all of the credit reporting companies to which it sent the inaccurate information so they can update their reports with the correct information.

Accurate

If the furnisher determines that the information is accurate and does not update or remove it, you can request that the credit reporting company include a statement explaining the dispute in your credit file. This statement will be included in future reports and provided to whoever requests your credit report.

Monitoring Your Credit Report

Use a credit monitoring app to track your monthly report and be alerted about changes.

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and founder of phroogal.com and thesmilelifestyle.com. His purpose to help others live their best lives through experiential and purposeful living. Jason is also a certified yoga teacher and breathwork specialist and has traveled to over 40 countries.

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