How to dispute items on a credit report

To dispute an error on your credit report, contact both the credit reporting company and the company that provided the information.

How to dispute an error on your credit report

Dispute the information with the credit reporting company

If you identify an error on your credit report, you should start by disputing that information with the credit reporting company (Experian, Equifax, and/or Transunion). You should explain in writing what you think is wrong, why, and include copies of documents that support your dispute. You can also use our instructions

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. You should include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position.

You may choose to send your letter of dispute to credit reporting companies by certified mail and ask for a return receipt, so that you will have a record that your letter was received.

You can contact the nationwide credit reporting companies online, by mail, or by phone:

Equifax

Mail the dispute form with your letter to:

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

By phone: 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

By phone: Phone number provided on credit report or (888) 397-3742

TransUnion

Mail the dispute form with your letter to:

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

By phone: (800) 916-8800

Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

Dispute the information with the company who provided the information (also known as the furnisher)

If you would like to submit a dispute regarding the information a company provided to the credit reporting company (called a furnisher), use our instructions

as a guide. Examples of information furnishers are your bank, your apartment landlord, or your credit card company.

What happens after you dispute information on your credit report?

If you suspect that the error on your report is a result of identity theft, visit IdentityTheft.gov

, the federal government’s one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft.

Credit reporting companies must investigate your dispute, forward all documents to the furnisher, and report the results back to you unless they determine your claim is 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 that it has made such a determination.

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

If the furnisher determines that the information is accurate and does not update or remove the information, you can request the credit reporting company to 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.

Still have questions about credit reports and scores?

Find resources to help you better understand them, learn how to correct errors, and improve your credit record over time.

How do you dispute something on your credit report?

Correcting Errors Tell the credit reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Tell the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a credit reporting company), in writing, that you dispute an item in your credit report.

Can disputing hurt your credit?

No. The act of disputing items on your credit report does not hurt your score. However, the outcome of the dispute could cause your score to adjust. If the “negative” item is verified to be correct, for example, your score might take a dip.

What is the fastest way to dispute credit report?

The quickest and easiest way to dispute your Experian credit report is to check your credit report online and submit corrections through the online Dispute Center.

Is it legal to dispute credit report?

Federal law gives you the right to submit a dispute and request an investigation when you discover an error in your credit report. When you submit a dispute, the credit reporting agency must investigate the items in question – usually within 30 days – unless they consider your dispute frivolous.

What is the best reason to dispute credit report?

If you believe any account information is incorrect, you should dispute the information to have it either removed or corrected. If, for example, you have a collection or multiple collections appearing on your credit reports and those debts do not belong to you, you can dispute them and have them removed.

Is it better to dispute online or by mail?

Mailing Dispute Letters Written dispute letters have been proven to be the best form of credit error disputes. You have the will to express your individual situation and represent yourself appropriately.

How can I wipe my credit clean?

In order to wipe your credit clean, your best possible strategy is to contact your creditors directly and see if there are any opportunities to pay for deletion. If so, you can have items wiped from your report quickly.

What is a 609 letter?

A 609 letter is a method of requesting the removal of negative information (even if it’s accurate) from your credit report, thanks to the legal specifications of section 609 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

What happens if I dispute a collection?

If you dispute the debt, the debt collector cannot report it to a credit reporting agency unless and until it verifies the debt. If the debt collector has already reported the debt (before it received your dispute letter), it must notify the credit reporting agencies that the debt is disputed.

Do I have to dispute all 3 credit bureaus?

You need only dispute with the credit bureau (s) whose credit report(s) reflect the inaccuracy. All three credit bureaus have an online dispute process, but opt for the mail-in option instead. Here’s a sample dispute letter you can tweak to fit the unique circumstances of your situation.

Does disputing a collection reset the clock?

Disputing the debt doesn’t restart the clock unless you admit that the debt is yours. You can get a validation letter in an effort to dispute the debt to prove that the debt is either not yours or is time-barred.

Why you should never pay a debt collector?

Ignoring the collection will make it hurt your score less over the years, but it will take seven years for it to fully fall off your report. Even paying it will do some damage—especially if the collection is from a year or two ago.

Do credit bureaus really investigate disputes?

Do the credit bureaus actually investigate disputes? Yes, credit bureaus are obligated by law to investigate credit report disputes. The question is how well they do it. According to the FCRA, they are required to investigate your disputes unless they consider them to be “frivolous”.

What can I do if my credit dispute is denied?

If your credit dispute is rejected, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to add a 100-word consumer statement to your report explaining your position.

Who do you call to dispute your credit report?

You can dispute by calling toll-free to (800)-916-8800(800)-916-8800. You should have a copy of your TransUnion Credit Report before calling this telephone number. The credit report will contain a File Identification Number (FIN) that you will need.

Sample letters to dispute information on a credit report

If you want to dispute information on a credit report, you may need to send a dispute letter to both the institution that provided the information, called the information furnisher, as well as the credit reporting company.

to submit a dispute with an information furnisher.
Download our sample letter

to submit a dispute with a credit reporting company.

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Your credit report has valuable personal information. See something amiss? Dispute credit report to get mistakes or irrelevant information off your credit history, which can help your score.

By Laurel Nelson-Rowe | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor

6 Min Read | March 18, 2020 in Credit Score

How to dispute items on a credit report

Content

At-A-Glance

Your credit report can influence whether you get a new car loan, a credit card, a job, and more—but 21% of them may have serious-enough errors to change your credit score.

Here’s how to find and dispute credit report errors.

Your credit report may be among your most important life documents, like your driver’s license, passport, or marriage license. But credit reports contain far more information than those documents—and, research shows, they can be prone to error. Fortunately, U.S. law gives you the right to review and dispute your credit report at all three credit reporting agencies, as well as with any business that gives them information.

Why Dispute a Credit Report?

What other document can influence whether you get a new car loan, a credit card, a job, a rental apartment, or a home mortgage? Or reveal potential identity theft attempts? Credit reports are commonly used for all these purposes. That may be enough to prompt you to review reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies—and dispute credit report information that isn’t current, accurate, or complete.

How Often do Errors Require Disputing Credit Reports?

In a one-of-a-kind 2012 study, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) selected 1,001 Americans at random and asked them to review and dispute credit report information that they felt was wrong.

Here’s what happened 1 :

  • 26% of total participants (262 people) identified one or more errors and disputed their credit reports
  • 21% (of total participants) had changes to a credit report based on their dispute
  • 13% saw their credit score change as a result
  • 5% saw their credit score increase enough to improve their credit risk level by one tier

That last statistic is perhaps most important. As the FTC report notes, the credit report disputes by those 5% resulted in enough improvement to get them better loan terms should they seek one, including a lower interest rate.

Did you know? As an added security measure to help protect against fraud, American Express reports a reference number to credit bureaus – instead of your actual account number.

How to Dispute Your Credit Report

The government and the credit reporting industry recognize how important, and how error-prone, credit reports are, so fair credit laws make it relatively easy to dispute your credit report. Relatively. Here are the main steps, discussed in more detail below:

  • Step 1: Get a copy of your credit report and review your credit report for errors.
  • Step 2: Write a dispute letter or fill out an online form for each error you uncover.
  • Step 3: Collect documents that support your dispute claims.
  • Step 4: File your dispute through online forms, telephone, or postal mail (certified/return receipt).
  • Step 5: Allow 30 days or less to get back the results of the dispute investigation.

The three credit reporting agencies offer both in-common and unique dispute services, tools, and advice. Each bureau’s site explains its error-dispute processes, including:

  • Information to include in your dispute letter
  • What supporting documentation to include
  • How to file your completed dispute package
  • How to find updates as your dispute progresses

The agencies urge online filing for more rapid resolution. Each bureau offers information for postal mail and telephone-based filings as well. You can begin the dispute process by obtaining a copy of your credit report from each bureau at annualcreditreport.com, a site established by law and overseen by the three agencies. If you detect errors, experts recommend marking them on the report, which you will copy and include in your credit report dispute package.

Equifax’s site offers a comprehensive list and examples of documents that could help support your case, including personal information, account-related information, and “other.” 2 The examples include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Birth certificate
  • Utility bill
  • Current bank statements
  • Letters from a lender that support your dispute
  • Proof of identity theft related to a specific account
  • Cancelled checks
  • Student loan disability letters
  • Bankruptcy schedules or other court documents

These materials, together with your dispute letter stating the facts and requesting corrections or deletions (several examples are available online), are your dispute package.

You can file credit report disputes with one or multiple bureaus, depending on where you’ve found inaccuracies. Experian’s Dispute Center, for example, offers interactive tools to make reports from workstations or smartphones. 3 With postal mail, experts recommend certified mail with return receipt, to assure delivery. And, it’s a good idea to record dates and all communications, whatever filing method used. 4

How to dispute items on a credit report

How to dispute items on a credit report

How to dispute items on a credit report

Many people close credit accounts they no longer want, thinking that doing so removes the account from their credit report. The Fair Credit Report Act—the law that guides credit reporting—allows credit bureaus to include all accurate and timely information on your credit report. Information can only be removed from your credit report if it’s inaccurate or outdated, or the creditor agrees to remove it.

What Happens When You Close an Account?

When you close an account, it’s no longer available for new transactions, but you’re still required to pay off any balance outstanding by paying at least the minimum owed each month by the due date.

After the account is closed, the account status on your credit report gets updated to show that the account has been closed. For accounts closed with a balance, the creditor continues to update account details with the credit bureaus each month. Your credit report will show the most recently reported balance, your last payment, and your monthly payment history.

Removing Closed Accounts From Your Credit Report

In some cases, a closed account can be harmful to your credit score, especially if the account was closed with a delinquency, like a late payment or, worse, a charge-off.

Payment history is 35% of your credit score, and any late payments can cause your credit score to drop, even if the payments were late after the account was closed.

Removing the account from your credit score could potentially lead to a credit score increase.

How to dispute items on a credit report

Removing a closed account from your credit report isn’t always easy, and is only possible in certain situations.

If the account on your credit report is actually open but incorrectly reported as closed, you can use the credit report dispute process to have it listed as an open account. Providing proof of your account status will help your position.

Having a credit account reported as closed (when it’s actually open) could be hurting your credit score, especially if the credit card has a balance. You can dispute any other inaccurate information regarding the closed account, like payments that were reported as late that were actually paid on time.

Goodwill Letter

You can use a goodwill letter to request that a creditor remove a closed, paid account from your credit report.

Creditors don’t have to give in to a goodwill request, no matter how nicely you ask, but you may get lucky and find one who’s sympathetic to your request.

Pay for Delete

For accounts with balances, the “pay-for-delete” strategy can help you remove a closed account from your credit report. The pay-for-delete letter offers full payment of the outstanding amount in exchange for removing the account from your credit report.

Again, creditors don’t have to comply. Occasionally, some creditors and debt collectors will agree to the arrangement with payment as an incentive to remove the account from your credit report.

You can send your goodwill or pay-for-delete letter directly to the creditor by mail. In some cases, you can try contacting the creditor by phone first to make your request.

Wait for Accounts to Drop Off

If you choose not to take steps to remove closed accounts, you’ll be happy to hear that these closed accounts won’t stay on your credit report forever. Depending on the age and status of the account, it may be nearing the credit-reporting time limit for when it will drop off your credit report for good. If that’s the case, all you might have to do is wait a few months for the account to fall off your credit report, and then for your credit report to update.

Most negative information can only be listed on your credit report for seven years from the first date of delinquency.

If the closed account includes negative information that’s older than seven years, you can use the credit report dispute process to remove the account from your credit report.

No law requires credit bureaus to remove a closed account that’s accurately reported and verifiable and doesn’t contain any old, negative information. Instead, the account will likely remain on your credit report for ten years or whatever time period the credit bureau has set for reporting closed accounts. Don’t worry—these types of accounts typically don’t hurt your credit score as long as they have a zero balance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a pay-for-delete letter?

A pay-for-delete letter is what you use to offer to settle a balance on a negative account in exchange for the debt being deleted from your credit report. The creditor or debt collector is not obligated to agree to your request, but it may be worth sending it. If you’re sending the request to a collection agency, you’ll need to offer enough for it to be profitable for them to settle. There’s no way to know how much that is, though. If you’re close to the seven-year mark for the item to fall off your credit report, it may not be worth sending a pay-for-delete letter.

How do you dispute an item on your credit report?

To dispute an item on your credit report, you’ll need to contact each credit bureau and file a dispute. You can file your dispute online, which is typically the fastest option. If you have supporting documentation, you can upload that as well. You can also make a dispute by mail; be sure to use certified mail if you do.

How to dispute items on a credit report

Laurie Wegman

  • August 4, 2020

How to dispute items on a credit report

Your credit scores impact many aspects of your financial health. This is why it’s so important that every item on your credit reports is accurate and belongs to you. If you find an error, whether it’s an incorrect name spelling or an account that isn’t yours, it’s in your best interest to dispute the mistake so it can be removed.

Fortunately for ScoreSense members, the Dispute Center provides a step-by-step guide for disputing incorrect data.

Why Disputing Mistakes Matters

Your right to have an accurate credit report is protected under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It also supports your right to dispute misinformation, such as:

  • Misspelled name
  • Wrong address
  • Wrong Social Security number
  • Incorrect payment history
  • Accounts that aren’t yours
  • Accounts that should have fallen off after seven years but haven’t
  • Accounts listed as being in collections but aren’t
  • Duplicate accounts

Disputing mistakes is important. One in five people have an error on their credit report that can lower their score. Having a lower score can impact the interest rate you’ll receive for a car loan, credit card application and mortgage.

With a good credit score, you can reduce the amount of interest you pay every year by hundreds of dollars. So if you have inaccurate information about your payment history, then your credit score will be negatively impacted. Remember, your credit score is shaped by five general categories:

  • Payment History: Making payments on time every month is crucial for a good score.
  • Amount of Debt: The amount of debt you have and your credit limits create your credit utilization ratio.
  • Credit Age: The longer your credit history, the better, as long as you’ve been responsible.
  • Types of Accounts: Creditors like to see a mix of credit.
  • Hard Inquiries: Anytime you want to open a new line of credit, the creditor checks your reports. Too many inquiries within a short time frame can be a red flag to lenders.

What Is the ScoreSense Dispute Center?

The ScoreSense Dispute Center is an online credit tool that walks members through the dispute process. There are four key steps.

Step 1: Collect all three of your credit reports and review them for errors or discrepancies. You may find that an error shows up on one of the reports but not the others. This is because lenders and creditors don’t have to report to all three bureaus.

Step 2: If you find an error on one or all of your reports, visit the TransUnion, Experian or Equifax online page to start the dispute process. Each bureau also provides the option to dispute via mail and phone.

Step 3: Each bureau has its own process for handling your dispute, so follow the instructions for specific requirements and steps. File the requisite documentation to resolve errors as quickly as possible.

Step 4: The bureau has 30 days to look into the dispute and drop or correct the errors. In some situations, it may take 45 days for you to receive a response. If the error isn’t resolved in that time, or if you haven’t received information about your status, follow up with the credit agency.

Talk to ScoreSense

ScoreSense members can also get one-on-one help from credit specialists who are ready to answer questions via phone or online chat.

Getting errors wiped from your credit report is crucial to repair your credit. Mistakes, omissions, wrong names, identity theft, and typos are like anchors causing your credit score to sink. These pesky errors can cost you dearly. Getting slapped with high-interest rates on a new credit card, high insurance, or—worse still—getting refused a loan or mortgage can shatter your hopes.

So, imagine having to pay for someone else’s mistake. We’re not just talking about a couple of bucks at the grocery store. Errors on your credit report can end up costing you thousands of dollars if you need credit. Get the blunders sorted, and you will see your credit score shoot up to what it should be.

You are probably thinking “great, but how can I dispute a credit report and win ?”

This article shows you step-by-step how to file a credit report dispute and win your case. The best part? If you know the right steps to take, fixing your credit score is easy and free.

Why Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

The simple fact is that mistakes happen and they can happen on your credit report. The Federal Trade Commission ( FTC ) says that one in four consumers have errors on their credit report that affects their credit scores. Filing a dispute resulted in 80 percent of people winning their case, and getting their credit report changed.

The FTC advises disputing errors to keep your financial history intact. Credits scores can affect your chances of getting a loan, renting an apartment, buying insurance, or even applying for a job. The blunder could be as simple as a small error or as severe as being a victim of identity theft. In any case, if you think that your credit report is wrong, dispute it immediately.

What are the common errors that can impact your credit score? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) lists some of the following:

  • Mistakes with your name or address
  • Accounts mistakenly reported as delinquent or late
  • The same debt is listed multiple times under different names
  • Accounts with incorrect balances or credit limits
  • Fraudulent account when you are the victim of identity theft

How to Dispute a Credit Report and Win

So, the big question is: how can you dispute a faulty credit report and win?

There are five steps to sorting out your credit history to help improve your credit score .

1. Get a free credit report

The first step is to get a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to get a free annual credit report from the three credit reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You need a report from all three as they have different methods of reporting your credit history.

All you have to do is visit the annualcreditreport.com website to request your free yearly credit report.

There is also another reason when you can get a credit report for free—if you get the shocking news that you’ve been refused a loan, insurance, or employment due to a low credit score. In this case, you can request a free report to see why your loan application was turned down.

2. Gather your evidence

Step two: gather all the evidence before you dispute a credit report. So, get bank statements, receipts, loan documents, or police reports about an identity theft complaint. Getting the proper records is the only way to show you have a valid claim and win your case.

Remember: always send copies and never send originals of your documents. So, scan or photocopy all your necessary documents. The last thing you need is for relevant documents to go missing.

Another piece of helpful advice is to send a copy of your report highlighting the errors. If you don’t have the right documents, the credit reporting bureau may just dismiss your dispute as “frivolous.”

3. Contact the credit bureau

So, with all your documents together and your copies ready, you can start step three of disputing your credit report—contact the credit bureau. There are three options to reach Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion:

  • online
  • by telephone
  • by mail

Depending on the credit report, you may only need to contact one company, or you may need to contact all three.

Here are the links to file a dispute online:

  • Experian online dispute form
  • Equifax credit dispute website
  • TransUnion online dispute application

You will probably find that filing a dispute online is easier and more streamlined than by phone or mail. If you decide to mail your documents, the FTC advises sending your information by certified mail with “return receipt requested.”

When you start a “paper trail,” keep a record—email or letters—of all communication. Remember that having the right documents is the only way to win a credit report dispute.

4. Contact the lender

If the dispute on your credit report involves more than just a wrong name and address, you should also contact the lender. This could be your bank, credit card issuer, or loan company. You can easily find their contact information on your credit report.

Your letter should include your name, address, and exact details of your dispute. Include all the relevant information—account numbers, file numbers, or item references—in your letter. Clearly state why their information is wrong and provide copies of your supporting documents.

If you have contacted both the credit bureau and the furnisher (a technical name for the lender), you have the option of suing the lender if you can’t resolve the dispute.

5. Follow up after 45 days

The credit bureau must investigate your claims within 30 days. After that, they have to reply to you within five days. So, if you’ve not heard back from them after 45 days, it’s time to find out what’s happening.

In most cases, you will win your dispute with the credit bureau if you back up your claims with solid evidence. The furnisher should also tell the credit bureaus to update the credit report. The credit reporting company must send you the results of their investigation. You will receive a new credit report for free if it has been changed.

What should you do if the furnisher insists that their information is correct? If they are “sticking by their guns” and refuse to budge, you can request that the dispute is included in your report. You can also contact the CFPB to file a complaint .

Errors on Your Credit Report: Dispute and Win

You have the right to dispute any item on your credit report that is incorrect. You need to collect documents to support your claim and then file a dispute with the credit reporting company. If you follow the steps in this article, you have every chance of winning your credit report dispute.

Your credit report and credit score are vital parts of your financial health. Using credit responsibly means you can get loans and other credit at the best possible rates. But what if there is a negative mark on your credit report that’s just plain wrong?

Money expert Clark Howard says that it’s up to you to make sure your credit report is accurate. The credit bureaus sometimes make mistakes — as do companies that report your activity to the bureaus.

In this article, we’ll show you how to ensure there are no errors on your credit report and guide you through the steps you need to take to correct any inaccurate information.

5 Steps To Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report

Errors on credit reports are a top source of consumer complaints to the U.S> Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) every year, according to its Consumer Complaint Database. To protect yourself from being the victim of one of those errors, here’s what you need to do.

1. Check Your Credit Report at Least Once a Year

You can’t find errors on your credit report if you don’t review it regularly. One way to make that a little easier is to monitor your credit score. If you see a sudden drop, it’s time to investigate. First, get copies of your actual reports from all three major credit bureaus: Team Clark’s Guide to Getting Free Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus.

Look for mentions of any accounts that you haven’t opened and any negative remarks on accounts you do have but that should be in good standing. If you spot anything that looks suspicious or out of place, you’ll want to move on to the next step.

2. If You Find an Error, Contact the Business That Reported It

If you spot something questionable or find an outright error on your report, contact the reporting entity involved. This could be a credit card company, the lender for your house or car note or even a landlord. It may just be a simple misunderstanding, in which case it should be relatively easy to clear up.

But no matter what caused the error or how insignificant it might be, you should send an official dispute letter to the company that reported the information to the credit bureau(s). Include a copy of the credit report itself, making sure you highlight the error. Also send any documentation you have in your favor. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the letter should look something like this:

Complaint Department
[Company Name]
[Street Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have highlighted the items I dispute on the attached copy of the report I received.

This item [identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.] is [inaccurate or incomplete] because [describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why]. I am requesting that the item be removed [or request another specific change] to correct the information.

Enclosed are copies of [use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records and court documents] supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this [these] matter[s] and [delete or correct] the disputed item[s] as soon as possible.

Enclosures: [List what you are enclosing]

To ensure that the letter makes it to its destination, you should send it by certified mail, return receipt requested.

3. Dispute the Error With the Credit Bureaus

At the same time you contact the entity responsible for an error, you should start the process of getting the error removed. You can submit a dispute with all three major credit bureaus online or by mail. Make sure to check the instructions from each bureau and include all of the proper documentation with your dispute.

Here’s what you’ll need to dispute the error with the credit bureaus.

Credit Bureau Address for Disputes Online Dispute Information
Experian Experian
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Experian Dispute
Equifax Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Equifax Dispute
TransUnion TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
TransUnion Dispute

4. Keep Copies of Everything

This step is extremely important.

In order to get your dispute resolved, you may be asked at some point to provide proof of the actions you’ve taken. Keep copies of everything you send to both the reporting entity and the credit bureaus.

If you end up communicating with anyone by phone, get the name and employee number of that person. If there are emails involved in your dispute, keep them in a folder where you’ll be able to access them easily.

5. Stay on Top of the Process

Finally, it’s important to understand that getting an error removed from your credit report isn’t an overnight thing. It’s a process that can take weeks or even months. Give it time to play out, but make sure no one is dropping the ball. If you don’t hear anything from anyone for a while, follow up with a phone call or email to see where things stand.

Once Everything is Resolved, Follow Up

When you do get the error removed from your report, your job isn’t finished. There are still a couple of things you need to do:

  1. Send revised versions of your reports to anyone who pulled your report during the time it included incorrect information. This is especially important if the error on your report caused you to be declined for a loan or resulted in being quoted a higher interest rate than you might have gotten with a better credit score.
  2. Continue to check your reports. You want to ensure the error doesn’t pop up again and that new errors don’t appear. Remember to check your credit reports from all three bureaus at least once a year.

If You Don’t Get Resolution, Escalate

If you can’t get the error on your credit report removed to your satisfaction by following the steps above and you’re sure that it’s there through no fault of your own, you may need to escalate your situation to the CFPB and possibly even your state’s Attorney General.

Final Thought

Having an error on your credit report is no fun and can be damaging to your financial well-being. But with a little diligence and taking the right steps, you can most likely have the error removed.

Don’t forget to check your credit reports at least yearly for mistakes and if you really want to protect yourself, make sure your credit is frozen with all three bureaus.

If you do need to dispute an error, we’ve created this handy reference with all of the steps.

How to dispute items on a credit report

If you’re feeling stuck and need to talk to someone who can help, contact Clark’s Consumer Action Center — a FREE service to help you with your money problems!

How to dispute items on a credit report

If you have negative items on your credit report, it’s a good idea to get them removed so that you don’t have to wait seven years to have good credit. It’s in your best interest to start cleaning up your credit report if you want to get a mortgage, car loan, insurance, or even a new job. Here’s how to get started.

How to dispute items on a credit report

How to Get Something Off Your Credit Report

According to the Federal Trade Commission, “no one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report.”

But, if the item is questionable or doesn’t quite tell the entire story, you have the right to file a dispute and request an investigation with each credit bureau that’s reporting it. You also have the right to file a dispute if an account results from fraud or identity theft.

Review Your Credit Report

After you’ve picked up a copy of your free credit report from each credit reporting agency (credit bureau), you need to review them to see which items are hurting your credit scores.

This step is crucial because you’ll be notating credit reporting errors and negatives in your credit report that need to be rectified and possibly removed. Pay close attention to the account information and payment history included on your credit reports and highlight any issues.

It’s also essential to make sure the item you are disputing is actually negative. You do not want to be disputing credit accounts that positively impact your credit score.

Call for a Free Credit Consultation!

Submit Dispute Letters to the Credit Bureaus

Before trying anything else, we recommend writing a dispute letter to each of the three major credit bureaus reporting the negative item. Creditors are mandated by federal law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), to report accurate information about each account.

If the credit bureau can’t verify their entries with the proper documentation when a dispute is filed, which is not uncommon, they must remove the negative item from your credit report.

You can dispute items on your credit report by phone, online, or mail. But disputing credit report errors by snail mail is the most effective method for several reasons.

The three credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate and respond to your dispute. However, you may sometimes receive a letter from the actual creditor requesting that you provide additional documentation so they can properly investigate the claim. This is a common stall tactic, and you’re not obligated to respond.

What to Do If the Dispute Letters Don’t Work

Dispute letters should take care of the problem. But sometimes, credit bureaus and/or your creditors don’t cooperate. The good news is you still have several options to have them removed.

Write a Goodwill Letter

No luck with direct contact or a written dispute? A goodwill letter is another tool in your arsenal to nix those late payments from your credit report.

These letters are ideal in situations where you missed payments and are now in good standing. (If the account(s) is already in collections, a pay for delete arrangement may be your best bet. More on that shortly…)

In a nutshell, a goodwill letter is a written request to the bank, credit card issuer, or other creditor asking that they remove the late payment from your credit report.

There’s no guarantee that they’ll remove the negative mark, but it’s worth a shot. Plus, you can plead your case again if they reject your request the first time around.

When drafting up your letter, be honest about why you were delinquent. For example, if you hit a rough patch because you became unemployed or dealt with medical issues, put that information in there. Or maybe your account was compromised, or there was a glitch in autopay, so the payment was returned or didn’t go through.

Regardless of your reasoning, be as specific as possible and reiterate that the entry does not reflect your true character. It just resulted from a financial rough patch, and that you’ve worked hard to get back on track.

Request a “Pay for Delete” Arrangement

If you have unpaid charge-offs or collections, you can offer to pay the unpaid debt in exchange for deletion from your credit report. You can even negotiate with them to pay a lesser amount than what you originally owed. In fact, some collection agencies will settle delinquent accounts for far less than what’s owed.

But before moving forward, you want to make sure that you’re negotiating with the right collection agency. If the debt has bounced from place to place, you may have a better shot at having the item deleted by filing a dispute. This forces the collection agency to prove that the debt actually belongs to you.

Otherwise, make your offer in writing to the collection agency and await approval before remitting payment. (And don’t give them your banking information. Submit a paper check, instead.)

They may counteroffer with a higher amount, but you have the option to keep negotiating until you reach the sweet spot. Once both parties agree on an acceptable number, the debt collector will remove the item once the balance is paid in full.

Quick note: You must do this in writing so you’ll have proof that they agreed to the arrangement in the event the negative item is not removed once you’ve satisfied your end of the agreement.

Be Persistent

Credit is often easy to access but can be your worst nightmare when the debt starts piling up, and you can’t find a way out.

If you’ve spent years in the trenches, don’t expect a miracle overnight. Instead, be prepared to do the legwork to improve your credit, and most importantly, don’t throw in the towel the moment you don’t get the results you want.

Consider Hiring a Professional

If you’ve exhausted all your options and still haven’t had much luck, professional credit repair services can help you. (This is also a viable option if you simply don’t have time to correspond back and forth with the creditors or credit bureaus).

Of course, you’ll want to go with a trusted credit repair company that has a proven track record and wealth of experience in the field.

Bottom Line

It’s possible to have negative items removed from your credit history. But you must be patient and open to pursuing all the methods available to you.

Find out how to remove medical collections that violate HIPPA from your credit report. Also, discover how much easier the dispute process is w/Credit Glory today!

You remove medical collections that violate HIPPA the same way you remove inaccurate items — with a dispute. You can dispute the record on your own, but there’s an easier way. When you partner with an expert (like Credit Glory) you simplify the dispute process.

Can you remove a medical collection that violates HIPPA from your credit report?

When a medical bill goes unpaid, the creditor has the right to sell your debt to a 3rd party. However, they’re only allowed to include information about the financial aspects of the debt. What does this mean? If the creditor includes any medical details (like the procedure) when they sell the debt, it’s your right to dispute (& remove) the collections record.

What are HIPPA violations?

Understanding what qualifies as a HIPPA violation is the first step to removing the medical collection record. What’s considered a HIPPA violation?

  • Selling the 3rd party collections agency any info related to the reasons or treatment type.
  • Allowing 3rd party collections unauthorized access to your medical records.
  • Failure to release medical information to the patients in a timely manner.

If any item on this list applies to you, you can dispute the medical collections record (& boost your credit score). You can file this dispute on your own. An easier way? Teaming up w/a credit repair pro (like Credit Glory) makes the dispute process super easy.

How to dispute (& remove) any negative item yourself

Disputing any negative item on your own is possible — but it’s a tedious process. Here are the steps to file a dispute:

Step 1: Write a dispute letter

There are several options for drafting a dispute letter. You can start from scratch — or find a template online. The tricky part is finding a legit template — especially when Google gives over 74 million search results! On the other hand, a partner (like Credit Glory) can simplify the process with proven results.

Step 2: Collect supporting docs

If you find a legit sample letter, you need to clearly state your name, address, and what you are disputing. Then collect all relevant documents to support your claim. A key here is ensuring you send copies — not originals.

Step 3: Wait for a decision

If you manage to write a letter, compile the documents, and find out where to send your letter — the last step is waiting for results. Assuming you did everything perfectly, the dispute results are sent to you in writing. The result? After a long wait — sometimes months — the record may be removed.

Credit Glory makes your dispute easier (& protects against future issues)

Handling the dispute process on your own is tedious and time-consuming. An easier way? Let Credit Glory — a dispute expert — handle the whole process (saving you time & money).

Choosing Credit Glory for help with your dispute provides:

  • A proven disputing process, backed by a risk-free guarantee.
  • Best-in-class support, so you always know what’s going on with your dispute.
  • Long-term protection against future errors with comprehensive credit monitoring (provided by IdentityIQ)

Remove medical collections that violate HIPPA the easy way (w/help from Credit Glory)

Disputing negative items on your credit report is hard work! It takes a lot of time, effort, organization, and follow up. The good news? Our team of credit repair professionals are here to simplify everything! В Let your dedicated credit repair expert relieve you of the stress, hassle, and time needed to fight your inaccuracies and boost your credit score (FAST!)

Credit Glory is a credit repair company that empowers consumers with the opportunity and knowledge to reach their financial dreams in 2021 and beyond.

Call us at (855) 938-3044 or set up a consultation to get started, today!

You credit report says a lot about you: where you live and work, whether you make your bill payments on time, how much debt you have, and whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy. It’s how m ortgage companies, credit card companies, refinancing companies, to name a few, decide whether or not to approve a loan for you and what your interest rate will be.

But what if there’s an error, or even potentially fraudulent accounts, on your credit report? Let’s walk through what you should to dispute these errors.

How to dispute items on a credit report

Check your credit report once a year

Checking your credit report regularly is one way to ensure that your personal and financial information hasn’t been compromised by fraudulent accounts. You’re entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can request all three at AnnualCreditReport.com.

If you do find errors, both you and the company providing the information to the credit bureaus are responsible for correcting your information. Take the following steps to dispute the items, as recommended by Federal Trade Commission:

1. Submit a dispute letter in writing

You’ll need to submit a letter to the credit reporting company noting each of the items you believe to be inaccurate, why you think they’re incorrect, and request that they be corrected or removed.

Be sure to include copies of any supporting documents. Send the letter by certified mail so that you have proof the credit bureau received the letter.

Within about a month, the credit bureau must investigate whether your request is valid — and they’re required to share your request with the companies that provided the incorrect information. These companies then must notify all three major credit bureaus of the correction.

2. Request that correction notices be sent to anyone who pulled your report recently

After the credit bureau investigates your dispute, they will give you their findings in writing, in addition to a free copy of your report if there is new, corrected information.

You can also request that the credit bureau send a notification to anyone who has pulled your report in the past six months, telling them that your information has been corrected. That way, you have a record that there was an issue with your past credit reports.

For employment purposes, you can have the corrected report sent to anyone who has pulled your report in the past two years.

3. Ask that a statement of your dispute be added to your file

Sometimes the credit bureau will not find that your report needs a change or deletion, or the investigation doesn’t immediately result in a correction.

In these cases, you can have a record or statement of your dispute added to your file and future credit reports. You can also request that this statement be sent to anyone who has recently pulled your report.

Note: you’ll likely be charged for this. However, it’s worth it to have your side of the story on file.

4. Submit a letter with your dispute to the information provider

Once you’ve let the credit bureau know of the error in your credit report, you should submit the same dispute letter to the person, company, or organization that provided the information to the credit bureau. You should send it to the address listed on the credit report, or contact the information provider to get the correct address.

As with the first dispute, you’ll want to explain exactly what the issue is and submit supporting documents.

If the information provider finds that your dispute is valid, they are required to inform the credit bureau to correct or delete the disputed item.

To be clear, not all negative information on your report is an error. And when it comes to having made late payments or filing for bankruptcy in the past, you’ll just need to give it time. There is a statue of limitations on when most financial aspects of your past can be reported.

Want to learn more about the impact of your credit history? Find out what your credit score really means and how student loans can affect it.

Credit report mistakes can potentially lead to higher interest rates or credit denial. Here’s how Experian’s dispute process works

Published: February 21, 2020

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How to dispute items on a credit report

Why trust us?

Summary

Incorrect information in your credit report can lower your credit score, and that could mean that you pay higher interest rates on credit cards and loans. You might even be turned down if you’re applying for new credit. Here’s how you can dispute an error in your Experian credit report.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Finding an error in your credit report is a terrible inconvenience, and it’s more common than you may think.

Nearly 20% of the complaints submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2018 were from people who said their credit reports contained incorrect information. And 7% of complaints focused on the credit reporting agency’s investigation into their problem.

For Experian, the CFPB report found nearly 17,000 complaints about incorrect information on credit reports, and 6,400 complaints about the company’s investigation into an ongoing issue.

Incorrect information in your credit report can lower your credit score, and that could mean that you pay higher interest rates on credit cards and loans. You might even be turned down if you’re applying for new credit.

The place to start if you want to check the accuracy of your credit report is to request a copy from Experian, as well as the other two main credit bureaus – Equifax and TransUnion. All three bureaus are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report every 12 months under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

You can request your report at AnnualCreditReport.com. The free reports don’t include your credit score.

Common credit report errors

The CFPB says common errors to look for in your credit report include:

  • The wrong name, address or phone number
  • Accounts belonging to someone else, whose name is similar to yours
  • Accounts opened under your name due to identity theft
  • Accounts that have been closed but are listed as open
  • Accounts incorrectly listed as late
  • The same debt listed more than once
  • Incorrect balances on accounts
  • Incorrect information reappearing on the account after it was already corrected

How to file a dispute with Experian

If you have an error in your credit report from Experian, you can file a dispute at the company’s online dispute center, or you can initiate a complaint by phone or mail. There is no charge for disputing an item on your credit report.

To file a dispute online, you’ll have to provide personal information to verify your identity, such as your home address and Social Security number, and answer several questions about such things as your previous employer and date of birth.

Once you sign in, you’ll be able to dispute various parts of your credit report. The report is divided into sections on personal information, accounts and inquiries. Some reports also have a section on public records. Items that could be affecting your credit may be listed as “potentially negative.”

You’ll use a drop-down box to dispute various items, and you may have to provide additional information or documentation to substantiate your dispute. You can scan pages and upload them to support your claim.

You can also dispute items on your credit report by mail. Experian provides information on how to dispute an item by mail. The letter should be sent to:

Experian
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX, 75013

If you want to start a dispute by phone, you’ll need to request a copy of your credit report and call the number listed on it.

After you’ve filed

Once you’ve filed the dispute, you’ll get emails from Experian charting its progress. The company says it will send an email when the dispute has been opened, as well as updates and another email when it has results.

You can also follow the progress of your dispute in the “Alerts” section of Experian’s dispute center.

Experian says information that is incorrect will be fixed and information that can’t be verified will be deleted or updated.

The credit bureau may have to contact the company that provided the information that is in dispute. If that company – whether it’s your card issuer or another creditor – says the information is correct, it can’t be removed from your report.

You also can contact the company that provided the information. The CFPB has a sample letter that you can use to send to creditors.

Experian says disputes typically are resolved within 30 days.

If you disagree with the outcome, you can dispute the item again if you have additional information to support your claim.

You also can add a statement of dispute to the Experian credit report. With it, you can explain why the information is incorrect. A potential lender who sees your Experian report will also see your statement and might ask you for more information.

Posted on Published: October 22, 2018 – Last updated: April 27, 2022

How to dispute items on a credit report

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One negative item on your credit report can have a huge impact on your borrowing power. It can make your credit score plummet, raise your interest rates and even make it difficult for you to obtain credit. Here’s how to dispute credit report and win if you have a negative item!

How to dispute credit report and win: getting started.

Your credit report is an important part of your credit health. While your credit score is important too, your report gives you a breakdown of all the items you have. If you’re trying to figure out how to dispute credit report and win, you need your report to see what you need to dispute. Great news, though! You can get your full credit report for each bureau once every year…for free!

The site is authorized by federal law and can help you learn about everything on your report. You will need to verify your identity, but you won’t need a credit card! Keep in mind you won’t get your score from this site (don’t worry, we’ll show you how to get your scores for free).

Take your time and go over everything that’s on your report. You can download the reports as PDF files, but it might be easier to print them. (Don’t have a printer? You can probably use one at your library if you have a library card.) Once you print it off, you can circle or highlight anything you find suspicious on the report. If you don’t think you owe the debt, if it belongs to someone else or you have no record of it, make a note of it so you can go back and dispute it later.

When should you dispute?

One thing to note when you’re filing a dispute is you should not do it if you have any big purchases coming up. If you’re shopping around for a mortgage, a car loan or anything that comes with a lot of borrowing, you should probably avoid disputing. Having an open dispute could make it difficult for you to get good mortgage rates.

If you have a lot of open disputes, it may make it even harder for you to get the mortgage you need. If you’ve already started a dispute, it’s definitely a good idea to wait before trying to get a mortgage or vehicle loan. The good news is most disputes do not take a long time. You can have a dispute open, investigated and back off of your report within just a few weeks if you’re able to do it electronically.

The sooner you dispute after realizing you have an error on your report, the better. Unlike obtaining new credit or applying for credit, there aren’t many “wrong” times to file a dispute on your credit report. Make sure you do the dispute the right way.

This is the easiest way to dispute your credit report.

A Transunion dispute, equifax dispute and experian dispute are all different! When you’re learning about how to dispute credit report and win, you need to make sure you know how to do it with all three of the credit bureaus. You can do two of them easily through Credit Karma. The free site allows you to see your credit score in real time. You can get alerts about any changes to the score, information on what’s making your score drop (or rise) and a detailed plan about how to fix it. Now, you can also dispute credit factors using the site.

Some disputes and some people may require you to do it through the mail instead of online. In these cases, you’ll need to fill out the form on the credit bureau website. You’ll have to put detailed information about what you’re disputing and why. From there, you can communicate both in the mail and online with the bureau to learn if the dispute is resolved.

Top 3 mistakes to avoid when you’re disputing.

  1. Do not dispute something the second it comes on your credit report. Make sure you give it time to make it onto all three of your credit reports. If you find something on your report that seems out of place, mark it and give it some time to go away. Believe it or not, the credit bureaus do make mistakes that they quickly catch and fix. This may be one of those things. If you dispute everything on your report as soon as it comes on there, it may look like you’re not legitimately disputing the items and just doing it to get things off your credit report.
  2. Always be honest when you’re disputing . If you know something is yours and you just dispute it to try and get it off your report, that might backfire. If you do this too many times, credit bureaus may not look at your disputes when you have a legitimate one. It’s a good idea to have evidence you can use when you’re filing a dispute.
  3. Make sure you file a dispute with all the credit bureaus. To find out how to dispute credit report and win, you need to look at every bureau. You need to do a Transunion dispute, an Equifax dispute and an Experian dispute. By only disputing with one or two credit bureaus, you could still hurt your credit score even if the items come off of those two! If an item isn’t on one of the reports, make sure to check back because it might have just not been added yet.

Get your credit back on track after a dispute.

Once you’ve figured out how to dispute credit report and win, it’s time to start building your credit back up. Often, when you dispute and win, your credit score will come up a couple of points. Sometimes, for big items, your score can rise dramatically. It’s important to make sure you continue working on your score. Here are some things you can do to keep building your credit up:

  • Fix medical debt.
  • Consider adding real estate to your credit report.
  • Keep track of your score.
  • Consolidate some of your debt into one loan.
  • Use credit cards responsibly.

Got credit report questions?

The financial experts at JustAnswer may be able to help! You won’t even need to leave the comfort of your home. Contact them today!

How to dispute items on a credit report

How to dispute items on a credit report

How to dispute items on a credit report

The Balance / Bailey Mariner

Credit reports sometimes contain errors that are serious enough to affect your credit score. One such error might be the inclusion of outdated debts. Fortunately, there’s a fairly simple way to remove old accounts from your credit report once the reporting time limit is up.

Time Limits for Negative Information

By law, credit bureaus are only allowed to list negative items for a certain amount of time. For most negative information, the time limit is seven years or seven years plus 180 days for a charge-off. Bankruptcy, however, can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years.

An account closed in good standing may remain on your credit report much longer than seven years.

Normally, you don’t have to do anything to remove old debts from your credit report after the time limit has run out. The credit bureaus will automatically delete the negative items from your credit report once they’re scheduled to be deleted. However, if old accounts are still on your credit report, you can use a dispute process to have them removed.

Note that the credit reporting time limit applies to negative items. There’s no law requiring credit bureaus to remove old accounts that do not contain negative information. Instead, the credit reporting time for these is based on credit bureau reporting guidelines.

Sending a Dispute Letter

The credit report dispute process is fairly simple. Write a letter to the credit bureau letting them know you’re disputing the information because it is outdated. Send your letter via certified mail, with return receipt requested, so you’ll have proof of the date the letter was sent and a signature from the person who received it.

Include copies of any proof of the last date of delinquency to help support your dispute.

If the credit bureau doesn’t respond within 30 days, it is in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The certified mail receipt will help if you decide to involve the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or file a lawsuit against the credit bureau.

As long as the dates on your credit report show that the old account already should have been removed, your dispute should go smoothly. However, if your credit report is showing a delinquency date that’s within the credit reporting time limit, you’ll have to send proof that the delinquency date is inaccurate. An account could have an inaccurate date after it’s sent to a collection agency, who often give debts a new date when reporting to the credit bureau. This is illegal, and you’re well within your right to have the account removed as long as the original date of delinquency was more than seven years ago.

Once you dispute, the credit bureau is required to do an investigation with the business that reported the account and update your credit report if the business agrees that your dispute is accurate. However, if the credit bureau doesn’t fix the error you disputed, you’ll have to take additional steps to clear up your credit report.

When to Dispute With the Creditor

If the credit bureau has done its investigation and has verified with the creditor that the account was within the credit reporting time limit, you should now dispute with the lender that listed the negative information. Your dispute letter will look very much the same. State that your credit report shows an inaccurate delinquency date for the account. Give the true date of delinquency if you have it. You may be able to get the delinquency date from an old billing statement, past due notice, or previous credit report if you saved any of these.

Just like credit bureaus, the business is required to investigate and respond to your dispute within 30 days and have the credit bureau remove the account from your credit report.

Don’t Confuse the Statute of Limitations

Make sure you’re not confusing the credit reporting time limit with the statute of limitations on debt. It’s a common mistake, because both have to do with how long companies can take action on delinquent accounts. The credit reporting time limit is defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and specifies how long accounts can stay on your credit report. The credit reporting time limits are pretty much the same for every type of debt (except bankruptcy) regardless of your state of residence.

The statute of limitations on debt, on the other hand, has nothing to do with the credit reporting time limit. Instead, it defines how long a creditor can bring legal action against you for a debt. The statute of limitations varies by state and by type of debt. It doesn’t result in an automatic dismissal of your debt. Instead, you have to prove that the statute of limitations has passed if you want any lawsuits filed against you to be dismissed. Debts can still appear on your credit report even if the statute of limitations has passed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the credit reporting time limit?

In most cases, specific negative debt information can only stay on your credit report for seven years. Bankruptcies can stay on your report for up to 10 years, Charged-off debts and positive information can remain longer.

How long does it take for a dispute to be removed from your credit report?

If you dispute information about a debt in your credit report, the credit bureau and the specific creditor must generally complete an investigation and resolve the issue within 30 days. That can be extended to 45 days if you have to provide additional information to the credit bureau.

C redit card companies and credit reporting agencies sometimes make mistakes. Those mistakes can result in costly errors on your credit report, unfairly lowering your credit score and making it difficult for you to get the best loan terms. That’s why it is important to monitor your credit reports. When something on them is wrong, you need to file a dispute.

How to dispute items on a credit report

Reasons to Dispute a Credit Report

It is a credit card myth that you can just dispute problems on the report because you don’t like that they’re there. You have to have a valid reason to file a dispute. Valid reasons include:

  • The information on the report is incorrect. For example, it may say that you owe an outstanding amount or have a series of late fees and this simply isn’t true. This is the most common example of why would you file a dispute. You want the information on your report to be accurate.
  • You are having a problem with identity theft. If you see a credit card on your report that doesn’t actually belong to you then you need to report fraud charges. At the same time you should file a credit report dispute to start the process of clearing up your report.
  • You need to let the credit bureaus know about a problem with a credit card company. For example, I recently had an issue with one credit card resulting from identity theft and it took over four months for the credit card company to solve the problem. During that time they mistakenly reported me as the problem to the credit bureaus. Although the credit card company eventually resolved the problem, I filed disputes with the credit reporting bureaus as well to make sure that the problem was completely resolved.

Note that it can take as long as 90 days for your dispute to be properly handled so it’s best to take this action as soon as you realize that a dispute may need to be filed.

How to File a Dispute with the Credit Reporting Bureaus

Typically when you file a dispute you will do so with one or more of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). In many cases it makes sense to file the report with all three reporting bureaus because they may all have the same mistaken information. However, in less common instances the problem is only with one bureau and there is no need to contact the others. Continue to monitor the others closely in the months following, though, to make sure that the problem doesn’t crop up with them as well.

If you’re ready to file a dispute with a credit reporting bureau then you need to do the following:

  • Order an updated version of your credit report. You are allowed to get one free copy each year from each of the three reporting bureaus but it’s worth it to pay the small fee to get another one if need be for dispute purposes.
  • Review your report section by section and identify all of the problems with the report. You don’t want to miss anything.
  • Gather any proof that you have that the report is incorrect. For example, you may have recent bill statements from your credit card company that show that your account is in good standing even though the report says it’s not.
  • Access the dispute form. Go online to the website for the credit bureau that you want to file a report for. Access their formal dispute form. Print it out and fill out the details.
  • Write a statement explaining that you want to file a dispute. Explain clearly and concisely what is wrong with the report and what you want to see changed. Include important identifying information such as your social security number or credit report account number.
  • Mail the statement, the dispute form and copies of your “proof” to the dispute address shown on the website for the credit bureau. Note that it is now possible to file an online dispute with the credit bureaus. Many people do choose this option but others still find it preferable to mail a hard copy via registered mail so they have more proof of the process if the dispute isn’t handled in a timely manner. In either case, maintain copies of the dispute for your records.
  • The credit reporting bureau should update you within ninety days as to the status of your dispute. If you haven’t heard from them in that amount of time then check your credit report again and contact them as needed.

Filing a Dispute with the Credit Card Company

Note that you may want to file a dispute with your credit card company in addition to filing a report with the credit bureau. If your credit card company has reported a problem to the bureaus that is incorrect then it’s worth it to do this. Sometimes the company will repair the problem with the credit bureaus before your personal dispute goes through, remedying the credit report more quickly for you. To file a dispute with the credit card company, simply contact them and ask for the fax number or mailing address to file disputes. Write out your dispute and provide any supporting documents to prove your claim. Include relevant information such as your account number. Request in writing that the company contact the credit bureau to repair the problem.

Have you ever had to file a credit report dispute? How did the process go for you? What tips do you have for others? Share your experience in the comments.

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The quickest way to improve your credit is to work to remove things on your credit report that are negative. This is not as hard as people think. Before going forward, remember that is against the law to lie in any of the forms that you will sending to the credit reporting agencies. But also remember that the law also says that an item in your report needs to be 100% correct for it to remain in your report; so even one small mistake in data is ground for deletion. The problem is that the credit reporting industry make more money from someone who has poor credit, because they buy more reports, they try to fix their credit by many very expensive means and they try more often to get credit letting the credit companies to make money when they sell your reports to the companies you apply with. They have many reasons to try to keep your report as negative as they can.

But the law is on your side. Now here is the secret that I have seen presented at least twice at really high priced seminars presented by very successful multi-millionaires. The law states that the info on your credit report MUST be 100% correct. But there is a conflicting privacy law that forces them to redact most of your account information. This turns account number 123456789 into xxxxxx789. Because of the conflict of these two laws it has created a loophole that millionaires walk through. It allows them to dispute that the information is not 100% correct and MUST be deleted.

They simply send a letter to the credit agency that says something like this. “Hello my name is John Doe, and I am writing to clarify an item on my credit report. My SSN is 111-11-1111. You have listed an account with account number xxxxxx789. This account number does not match the number that is on my statements from MegaBux Bank. Because the information about this account is not accurate I ask that you remove it ASAP as the law requires.” The credit agencies hate it when they receive a letter like this because they know that there is no way they can keep the item on your report. The MAJOR problem with this tactic is that it totally removes the trade line, and many people have poor credit more because of a lack of trade lines than from negative information. If you have a 6xx score and you have less than 12 trade lines, it would actually hurt you more to remove an item with a few 30 day late payment than it would to keep it on your report. But if you are in the 7xx range and have 20 trade lines it will likely be much better to remove the trade line. (On a side note, the reason most millionaires use this trick is not to remove negative items, they use it to remove mortgages on investment real estate, because many banks have a limit on how many mortgages you can have at one time…doing this makes them not show up on the credit report. They still must declare them all in the application but for some reason banks look at the credit report more than the loan application and give the credit anyway.)

If you want to keep the trade line you often can change it to make it less negative by disputing minor issues with it. What follows is a set of instructions on how to dispute your credit the way most people do it. Start with this first, you may get 50% or more of your negative items changed to positive, which is much better than deleting them.

With this economy you need all the help you can get to fix the last few years, and I truly hope that this blog entry helped someone. If this helps you please comment below.

Start the dispute process

You have every right to dispute inaccuracies in your credit report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the credit bureaus and your creditors are obligated to correct inaccurate information in a timely manner.

How to file a dispute

  1. Contact the creditor with the incorrect information
    • We’ve created a sample letter that you can use to start the process
    • Some creditors will correct minor errors over the phone, so we recommend that you contact the creditor first
    • Your list of creditors can be found in the Creditor Contact section of your credit report
  2. Contact the credit bureaus
    • Disputes may be sent to the credit reporting agencies online or in a letter:
    • Experian – Disputes are not accepted by telephone, but you may file a dispute online (link to Experian online form)
    • Equifax – Disputes are accepted online (link to EFX dispute page), or you use one of our sample letters and mail your dispute
    • Trans Union – Disputes are accepted online (link to TU dispute page), or use one of our sample letters and mail your dispute
    • Once the credit reporting agency receives your request, it has 30 days to investigate and provide a response to you in writing. During its investigation, the credit reporting agency will contact the institution that provided the disputed information to seek verification of its accuracy. If the disputed information cannot be verified, it must be removed from your credit report or updated per your request. Information that is verified as accurate may remain in your credit files for as long as allowed by law.
    • You may file more than one dispute at a time. You may also file disputes with more than one credit reporting agency. Each dispute will be investigated separately, but may be processed simultaneously.
  3. Follow up
    • If you have not received a response to your request after 30 days, write a letter to the credit reporting agency indicating that you have not been notified of the results.
    • We’ve created a sample letter that you can customize as necessary to explain your case. Print, sign and mail the letter to the appropriate credit reporting agency, keeping a copy for your records.
  4. Don’t give up
    • If upon receiving the results of the investigation you are still not satisfied, you may request information regarding the person or institution that supplied the information.
    • We’ve created a sample letter that you can customize to your needs and include any additional information necessary to explain your case. Print, sign and mail the letter to the appropriate address, keeping a copy for your records.
    • You may also wish to add a 100-word consumer statement to your credit file explaining the reason for the disputed information so potential creditors have the total picture.
  5. If you do not recognize information on your credit report and suspect that you may be a victim of identity theft, in addition to filing a dispute, we recommend you file an Identity Theft claim.

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Your credit report and credit score are vital parts of your financial health. Using credit responsibly means you can get loans and other credit at the best possible rates. But what if there is a negative mark on your credit report that’s just plain wrong?

Money expert Clark Howard says that it’s up to you to make sure your credit report is accurate. The credit bureaus sometimes make mistakes — as do companies that report your activity to the bureaus.

In this article, we’ll show you how to ensure there are no errors on your credit report and guide you through the steps you need to take to correct any inaccurate information.

5 Steps To Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report

Errors on credit reports are a top source of consumer complaints to the U.S> Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) every year, according to its Consumer Complaint Database. To protect yourself from being the victim of one of those errors, here’s what you need to do.

1. Check Your Credit Report at Least Once a Year

You can’t find errors on your credit report if you don’t review it regularly. One way to make that a little easier is to monitor your credit score. If you see a sudden drop, it’s time to investigate. First, get copies of your actual reports from all three major credit bureaus: Team Clark’s Guide to Getting Free Credit Reports From All Three Bureaus.

Look for mentions of any accounts that you haven’t opened and any negative remarks on accounts you do have but that should be in good standing. If you spot anything that looks suspicious or out of place, you’ll want to move on to the next step.

2. If You Find an Error, Contact the Business That Reported It

If you spot something questionable or find an outright error on your report, contact the reporting entity involved. This could be a credit card company, the lender for your house or car note or even a landlord. It may just be a simple misunderstanding, in which case it should be relatively easy to clear up.

But no matter what caused the error or how insignificant it might be, you should send an official dispute letter to the company that reported the information to the credit bureau(s). Include a copy of the credit report itself, making sure you highlight the error. Also send any documentation you have in your favor. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the letter should look something like this:

Complaint Department
[Company Name]
[Street Address]
[City, State, Zip Code]

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have highlighted the items I dispute on the attached copy of the report I received.

This item [identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.] is [inaccurate or incomplete] because [describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why]. I am requesting that the item be removed [or request another specific change] to correct the information.

Enclosed are copies of [use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records and court documents] supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this [these] matter[s] and [delete or correct] the disputed item[s] as soon as possible.

Enclosures: [List what you are enclosing]

To ensure that the letter makes it to its destination, you should send it by certified mail, return receipt requested.

3. Dispute the Error With the Credit Bureaus

At the same time you contact the entity responsible for an error, you should start the process of getting the error removed. You can submit a dispute with all three major credit bureaus online or by mail. Make sure to check the instructions from each bureau and include all of the proper documentation with your dispute.

Here’s what you’ll need to dispute the error with the credit bureaus.

Credit Bureau Address for Disputes Online Dispute Information
Experian Experian
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Experian Dispute
Equifax Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Equifax Dispute
TransUnion TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
TransUnion Dispute

4. Keep Copies of Everything

This step is extremely important.

In order to get your dispute resolved, you may be asked at some point to provide proof of the actions you’ve taken. Keep copies of everything you send to both the reporting entity and the credit bureaus.

If you end up communicating with anyone by phone, get the name and employee number of that person. If there are emails involved in your dispute, keep them in a folder where you’ll be able to access them easily.

5. Stay on Top of the Process

Finally, it’s important to understand that getting an error removed from your credit report isn’t an overnight thing. It’s a process that can take weeks or even months. Give it time to play out, but make sure no one is dropping the ball. If you don’t hear anything from anyone for a while, follow up with a phone call or email to see where things stand.

Once Everything is Resolved, Follow Up

When you do get the error removed from your report, your job isn’t finished. There are still a couple of things you need to do:

  1. Send revised versions of your reports to anyone who pulled your report during the time it included incorrect information. This is especially important if the error on your report caused you to be declined for a loan or resulted in being quoted a higher interest rate than you might have gotten with a better credit score.
  2. Continue to check your reports. You want to ensure the error doesn’t pop up again and that new errors don’t appear. Remember to check your credit reports from all three bureaus at least once a year.

If You Don’t Get Resolution, Escalate

If you can’t get the error on your credit report removed to your satisfaction by following the steps above and you’re sure that it’s there through no fault of your own, you may need to escalate your situation to the CFPB and possibly even your state’s Attorney General.

Final Thought

Having an error on your credit report is no fun and can be damaging to your financial well-being. But with a little diligence and taking the right steps, you can most likely have the error removed.

Don’t forget to check your credit reports at least yearly for mistakes and if you really want to protect yourself, make sure your credit is frozen with all three bureaus.

If you do need to dispute an error, we’ve created this handy reference with all of the steps.

How to dispute items on a credit report

If you’re feeling stuck and need to talk to someone who can help, contact Clark’s Consumer Action Center — a FREE service to help you with your money problems!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON CREDIT CARD INSIDER By Brendan Harkness / Reviewed by Michelle Lambright Black Published Mar. 29, 2022 / Last Edit Apr. 23, 2022 Read time 5 min

What You Need To Know

  • If you find any fraudulent activity on your credit reports, you should probably place credit freezes and/or fraud alerts on your three reports
  • If you spot an error in a credit report, you should file a formal dispute with the credit reporting company. The dispute process is completely free
  • You can mail a certified letter (return receipt requested) asking the credit bureau to correct the mistake or delete the offending account from your credit report

Contents

You may think that your credit reports perfectly reflect an accurate picture of your credit history. But that might not always be true.

Mistakes and inaccuracies appear on credit reports more often than many people believe. Some mistakes may be minor, like misspellings of names, addresses, or other personal information. Other mistakes, such as incorrect payment history or the addition of credit accounts that don’t belong to you, could be much more significant.

Credit bureaus are legally obligated to investigate when you dispute the accuracy of an item on your credit report. However, if you’re not checking your credit regularly, sometimes inaccurate information can go unnoticed for years. In the meantime, those credit reporting mistakes could have a very damaging impact upon your credit scores, whether you realize they’re on your reports or not.

In 2012 an FTC study found that about 25% of consumers had an error on one of their credit reports, and 5% were paying higher interest rates because of those mistakes. The study also found that about 10% of consumers who found errors and disputed them wound up with better credit scores, making them more eligible for better loan terms.

It’s definitely worth your time to get your credit reports and take a look at their contents. In fact, you should make a habit of reviewing your three credit reports several times per year. If you find any mistakes, you can take some pretty simple steps to correct them.

Checking Up on Your Credit Reports

You have three credit reports, one from each of the consumer credit bureaus (also known as credit reporting agencies) – Experian™, Equifax® and TransUnion®. Under federal law, you can check free credit reports from all three major bureaus once every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com.

Some credit report errors to look out for include:

  • Name misspellings (common when family members share similar names)
  • Duplicate accounts
  • Incorrect accounts
  • Fraudulent accounts (especially if you’ve been a victim of identity theft)
  • Information or accounts from an ex-spouse
  • Incorrect payment statuses
  • Outdated information (like negative accounts over seven years old)
  • Incorrect date of first delinquency on a collection account

If you find any fraudulent activity on your credit reports, you should probably place credit freezes and/or fraud alerts on your three reports. You can also place credit locks on your three reports, but this is different from a credit freeze, which the government requires the bureaus to offer free of charge.

Correcting Errors in Your Reports

If you spot an error in a credit report, you should file a formal dispute with the credit reporting company. The dispute process is completely free. Under the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the credit bureau must investigate the error and update you with the results of its investigation within 30 days (as long as they don’t see the request as frivolous).

Keep in mind that if the error is on all three of your credit reports, you’ll need to submit a separate request to each credit bureau involved.

How to dispute items on a credit report

  1. Account reporting “One Month Term.” What terms and agreements did you sign and agree to when the debt collector purchased the debt? None. Collection accounts should not have one month terms.
  2. Account reporting as “120 days late”. How can this be? Collection accounts are not like original creditor accounts. You did not open an account with a collection agency and promise to pay monthly payments. The debt collector can report the last status from the original creditor but they cannot update lates on a monthly basis.
  3. Account is reporting as an “Installment”. Again, what terms and agreements did you sign and agree to when the debt collector purchased the debt? None. Is the debt collector posing as a bank, lender or finance company? Collection accounts are not installment accounts.
  4. Another common error is reporting the debt as revolving, which is not only inaccurate, but may cause the credit score to further decrease. The collection account now looks like another revolving account in default and will be scored along with other revolving accounts on the credit report.
  5. Account ” balance” or the “high balance” is incorrect. Many collection agencies pose as Data Factoring Companies. Even if the credit bureaus allow this deception, you did not open a “data factoring account” with them. Collection accounts are not “data factoring accounts.”
  6. The date of first delinquency with the original creditor is not reporting and according to the F.C.R.A., Section 623, (a)” A person who furnishes information to a consumer reporting agency regarding a delinquent account being placed for collection, charged to profit or loss, or subjected to any similar action shall, not later than 90 days after furnishing the information, notify the agency of the date of delinquency on the account, which shall be the month and year of the commencement of the delinquency on the account that immediately preceded the action.”

Usually these items are on a credit report under your collections accounts and can be disputed because they are reporting incorrectly. Get your credit repair ebook here

I have seen estimates that say as many as 70% of credit reports contain inaccurate or downright false information. Do you know if yours is one of them?

A quick check of your credit report should tell you everything you need to know. It will also help you to catch any instances of identity theft.

If you do not monitor your credit reports regularly, you can still check them once a year for free by going to Annual Credit Report.com.

Any other sites or advertisements that you see do not actually let you check your reports for free. Only Annual Credit Report.com is the real deal.

So, you’ve checked your credit report and found bad information, what then? Let’s take a quick look at the dispute process:

Option One:

You can create an account with all three of the credit bureaus (websites below). All three have entire sections of their sites dedicated to helping you challenge this bad information on your credit report.

Here are the sites you will need to visit:

Once you log in with them, you can begin the automated process of challenging the information on your credit report.

I have actually been through the dispute process with all three of the credit bureaus via their online forms. I can tell you for certain that TransUnion has the best system – because I actually heard back from them after I made the challenges, and they did make the necessary changes. The other two credit bureaus (Equifax and Experian) I heard nothing back. Nada. Zero. Zip. No changes were made.

So, the next option for me was to send in a certified letter to Equifax and Experian. That got results.

Option Two:

Sending in a certified letter:

You will have to spend a little time getting everything together before you send your certified letter in to the credit bureaus.

  1. A copy of your most recent credit report from each credit bureau.
  2. Make a copy of your credit report, and highlight any missing or incorrect information.
  3. You will also need to include various forms of identification like a utility bill in your name at your current address, your social security number, and a copy of your driver’s license.
  4. Gather up any supporting documents you will need. Things like canceled checks showing the credit account was paid in full, credit card statements, police reports (in case of identity theft), court documents or discharge papers (in case of a judgment or bankruptcy).
  5. Attach a cover letter to the information stating that you are disputing the highlighted items on your credit report.
  6. Send it certified mail so that you have a delivery receipt.

It’s a lot of trouble to go through, yes, but you could actually raise your credit score considerably just by taking the time to do this.

Your legal rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

  • If you dispute an item on your credit report, the credit bureau must investigate, and they are not allowed to charge you for the investigation.
  • The credit bureaus have thirty days to investigate your dispute. If, at the end of thirty days the disputed item cannot be confirmed, then the items is removed from your credit report.
  • After the thirty day period, the credit bureau is required by law to send you the written results of your investigation.
  • Once the investigation is finished, you are entitled to another free copy of your credit report.

Generally when a disputed item is “investigated” it means that the credit bureaus will contact the company or bank that listed the item on your credit report in the first place, and ask them to verify the debt, or status of the debt in question. If the company does not respond to the credit bureau within the thirty day time frame, then the information is removed from your credit report.

It is possible to challenge the same information more than once.

A word of caution: Challenging too many items on your credit report at the same time will cause the credit bureau to freeze your credit report temporarily (until your disputes are settled). If that happens, you will most likely not be able to get a loan during that period of time, because your prospective lenders will not be able to pull your credit report, or your credit score to make a decision on a loan.

People often run into trouble with this because they challenge a bunch of items, and then go apply for a car loan, or a credit card. So, just keep in mind that these disputes are going to tie up your credit report and score for about a month, and don’t apply for anything. If you do, you will not get the loan, and your credit score will drop slightly from the inquiry. Best to wait until everything is resolved, and then move forward with any new loans.

That’s pretty much it. The entire process is really very simple. There is no need, ever, to pay a company to do this for you unless you just really, really do not want to mess with it. Most companies that I have seen charge upwards of $50 a month to challenge items on your credit report for you!

If you want to take care of challenging the bad information on your credit reports yourself, you can click here to download a short, free guide which includes a sample letter of dispute, and the mailing addresses for all three credit bureaus.

First. Congrats on taking another step towards better credit. You’re another step closer to hearing “Approved”!

We know what a grueling task it can be to be disputing, writing, calling, etc. these letters/forms alone, especially if you aren’t sure what next steps to take.

Now, let’s look into how you might go about removing these negative items.

Dispute Credit Report Online vs Mail

It is your right to make sure the information on your credit report is accurate, complete and verified. That includes (to name a few):

So, if you’ve noticed something is inaccurate or been there for over 7 years (or just “fishy”) it’s time to take action. Some errors you should questions are:

  1. Accounts that you didn’t open
  2. Incorrect debt amounts on a loan or collection account
  3. Outdated or incorrect personal information

Want Help Removing Items Off Your Credit Report?

Should I dispute credit report online or by mail or call?

Which method you choose is based on effectiveness.

Disputing Credit Errors Online

Of course, the online process can be easier. You can reach the 3 bureaus much faster.

You can upload all your documents, ID, forms, etc. so you don’t have to wait a week or more for your claims to get noticed.

Still, oftentimes, the online option don’t cater to your particular need. They are a bunch of fixed options based on generalizations rather than your unique situation.

And in case you were wondering, filling disputes online does not require you to sign an arbitration agreement.

That all that being said… online disputes have become more popular in the past decade but it is not the most efficient way to challenge items.

You need all types of proof, especially the date, and there is no guarantee that you will receive an email when an action is taken.

  • Transunion
  • experian
  • EQUIFAX

TransUnion
Online , Call 1-800-916-8800 or mail a dispute letter to
Transunion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000

Experian
Online, Call 1-800-208-9232, or mail a dispute letter to
Experian
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013

Equifax
Online, Call 1-866-349-5191, or mail a dispute letter to
Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374

Mailing Dispute Letters

Written dispute letters have been proven to be the best form of credit error disputes.

You have the will to express your individual situation and represent yourself appropriately. This is why credit experts like the attorneys at Lexington Law (a law firm that does credit repair) write dispute letters for their clients.

You can make your case by giving the reason behind making the dispute. The downside to challenging an item via mail is that it takes longer (7-10 business days).

Plus, you have to go gather mailing type things like certified stamps and such.

Make Calls to dispute credit errors

Making calls is the least effective way to handle disputes, but it is the best way to get information from people.

You may not remember charging something or when something was placed on your report. So, if you don’t have things in writing, email or a receipt of some sort a call might be your best option.

A simple call can straighten things out so you can go about your day.

You may get lucky and get more help than you expected (you never know what can happen when you just talk to people)

To be clear, you don’t actually want to challenge items via phone- there is no paper trail there. The phone would just get information for you letters or online forms.

Dealing with credit problems is never much fun, but when your credit problems are the result of errors on your credit reports these problems can take on a whole new level of frustration. This frustration is largely due to the fact that credit problems and low credit scores can make life difficult in many ways. Bad credit can easily lead to loan denials, credit card denials, trouble renting /purchasing a place to live, challenges when trying to purchase a vehicle, and even difficulty landing a job or a coveted promotion.

If credit reporting errors are costing you money or causing you to be denied for the things you need the good news is that you do have some recourse available to you. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the chief federal law which regulates credit reporting, you have the right to dispute any item on your credit reports with which you disagree or find to be questionable.

When you dispute an item with one of the credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian), that bureau has 30 days in most cases to complete an investigation into your claim and to either verify or remove the disputed item. (Note: In some instances, such as when you send additional documentation after initiating a dispute, the credit bureau may have up to 45 days to investigate your claim.)

Here is an overview of how the dispute process actually works.

Step 1: Initiating the Dispute

How to dispute items on a credit report

The first step in any dispute process is to let one of the credit bureaus (or perhaps a creditor) know that you disagree with or question information which is currently appearing on your credit report(s). You have the right to initiate disputes on your own, of course, but you also have the right to hire a reputable professional like the Credit Pros to handle all of the legwork for you as well.

Many consumers do not have the time to handle disputes on their own or they do not fully understand how to exercise their rights under the FCRA. If you find yourself in either of these positions then professional credit repair services may make the most sense for you.

Step 2: The Credit Bureaus Do WHAT?!

How to dispute items on a credit report


The next step in the dispute process seems so incredibly shady that it is difficult for most consumers to even believe. Whenever you submit a dispute to one of the credit bureaus, even if you write 3 thoughtfully worded pages explaining why the item in question on your credit report is incorrect, the credit bureaus will take your detailed explanation and truncate it down into a simplified, 3-digit code.

That simple “dispute reason code” is all that the credit bureau will use to communicate the reason for your dispute with the data furnisher (the company who reported the disputed information to the credit bureau in the first place). The dispute reason code is transmitted from the credit bureau to the data furnisher via an online system known as Online Solution for Complete and Accurate Reporting, or e-OSCAR.

Step 3: The “Investigation”

How to dispute items on a credit report

Once a data furnisher has received your 3-digit dispute reason code from a credit bureau through e-OSCAR, the furnisher is required to investigate your claim. However, an “investigation” as you and I understand the term is not always what actually takes place. Data furnishers will often drop the ball during the investigation of your dispute and step all over your consumer rights under the FCRA in the process.

In fact, another rather unbelievable aspect of the credit dispute process is the fact that a data furnisher could simply click a button that the disputed item is “accurate” and the credit bureau would take the company’s word for it regardless of the fact that you disagree. Remember, you are not the credit bureaus’ customer. The data furnisher is their customer. Whenever there is a case of “he said, she said” the credit bureaus are almost certain to take the data furnisher’s side every time.

However, there is a bit of good news for you, the consumer, when it comes to the dispute process as well. If a data furnisher ignores your dispute and fails to respond to the credit bureau via e-OSCAR then after 30 days (in most cases) the credit bureaus are legally required to delete the account from your credit report due to the lack of response.

Step 4: Your Results

How to dispute items on a credit report

Once a credit bureau has received a response from the data furnisher it is time to update your credit report. Keep in mind that if the disputed item was verified as accurate by the data furnisher then the credit bureau may not actually be making any changes to your credit report. However, if a data furnisher confirms that the disputed account should be removed (or if the data furnisher fails to respond within the allowable time frame) then the offending item(s) will be deleted. Regardless of whether you have had deletions, whether items on your credit reports were updated, or whether the disputed items were verified the credit bureaus are obligated under the FCRA to send you the results of your investigation.

What If the Errors Remain?

The unfortunate truth is that sometimes erroneous or questionable items can remain on your credit reports even after a dispute. If this happens you have the right to re-dispute any item on your credit report.

How to dispute items on a credit report

However, remember that it can often pay off to have a professional in your corner to handle the process for you.

When you get a copy of your credit card, there may be bad marks on there that you question, or that you know were resolved long ago. There is a phone number to call for the credit-reporting agency (right on the report), and it gives you directions on how to dispute a charge. Generally, you’ll talk to the credit reporting agency, tell them which charge you dispute and they’ll give you the full account number and the details- along with a number to call for the particular creditor that is making the bad claim on your credit.

Take this information and call the creditor to dispute the problem. Chances are it will take several conversations, but you should be able to rectify the problem. If you cannot, you have two choices- wait 7 years for the claim to be too old to report on your credit, or ask the credit for the paperwork you need to fill out to dispute the claim.

In addition to calling, it is a good idea to send a letter so you have documentation of your credit report dispute. Here is an example template you can send (With an example immediately following):

To: Consumer Relations

Credit Reporting Agency Name
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Re: Dispute of Credit Report

Please review the following inaccurate items on my credit report.

[LIST ITEMS IN DISPUTE]

In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, please check each item with the creditors listed and remove items which cannot be verified. In addition, please investigate and reply to my request within 30 days.

[Your Name]
SSN # [Your Social Security Number]
Street Address
City, State Zip Code

Example Letter:

To: Consumer Relations

Equifax
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Re: Dispute of Credit Report

Please review the following inaccurate items on my credit report. I have enclosed a copy of my credit report with these items circled:

  • JC Penney’s charge account opened for $250 in May, 1998 and closed in April, 2001. I did not have a JC Penney’s charge account. Please remove this account.
  • Three late payments to Capital One. These did not occur. Please investigate and remove.
  • Loan opened with GE Financial. The credit report did not state the amount of the loan. Please add the amount of the loan.

Enclosed are copies of documents support my position. Please investigate these matters and correct the disputed items as soon as possible.

Alex Ryan
SS # 011-33-5478
1818 Meadowbrook Ln
Chicago, IL 60517

Credit Reporting Agencies:

Equifax: 800-685-1111
PO Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Experian: 800-682-7654
PO Box 2002
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