How to dispute an error in your credit report
A study by the Federal Trade Commission into accuracy in the credit reporting industry found that 5 percent of consumers had errors on one of their three major credit reports. Your credit report is one of the factors used to determine how much you pay for credit or whether you can even get credit. If you find errors on your report, it’s important to get them corrected as soon as you can.
You have rights
Consumers have certain rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- You have the right to receive a copy of your credit report.
- You have the right to know the name of anyone who received your credit report in the last year for most purposes or in the last two years for employment purposes.
- Any company that denies your application must supply the name and address of the credit bureau they contacted if the denial was based on information given by the credit bureau.
- You have the right to a free copy of your credit report when your application is denied because of information supplied by the credit bureau.
- If you contest the completeness or accuracy of information in your report, both the credit bureau and the furnisher of information are legally obligated to investigate.
- You have a right to add a summary explanation to your credit report if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction.
How to dispute errors
All three of the major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax — allow you to file a dispute online, but it’s a good idea to send your dispute using certified mail or some other method that requires the recipient to sign for the material. Keep copies of everything, including any delivery notifications.
Disputing the information in your credit report is easy, but it takes time and requires diligence on your part. To ensure the error gets corrected as quickly as possible, contact both the credit bureau and the business or organization that provided the information to the bureau. Both these parties are responsible for correcting your report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Send a dispute letter to the credit reporting agencies and the company or organization that provided the incorrect information, if you know. The credit bureau must investigate – usually within 30 days. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. You can find a sample letter on the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
- Clearly identify each item you dispute. State the facts and explain why you dispute the information. Include any evidence you have, such as police reports, correspondence with your creditors, canceled checks, paid receipts, etc. Tell the credit reporting agency if you are being prevented from obtaining credit, such as a mortgage, credit card or auto loan, or if you are being harmed in other ways. Ask that the incorrect information be corrected or deleted.
- Review the credit reporting agency’s response. If they request additional information, provide it promptly.
- In 45 days, check for updates to your credit report.
The bottom line
It’s important to dispute errors on your credit reports as soon as you can. Even relatively small errors, like a misspelled name, wrong address or transposed Social Security number digits — can adversely affect your life. The dispute process can be time consuming, but it’s worth the effort in the long run. You can order a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting agency by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.Go to main navigation