Unfortunately, credit report errors are not as uncommon as you think. A study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that about one in four consumers found mistakes or inaccuracies on their credit reports that might lower their credit scores.
Below, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to dispute a credit report if you find any incorrect information on your report.
10 common credit report errors to look for
Some of the most common inaccuracies and errors to look for when reviewing your credit report include:
- Incorrect name, surname, phone number, or address
- Credit report mixed with that of someone else (usually, that consumer have the same or similar name)
- A credit account was opened in your name by someone else as a result of fraud or identity theft
- Your closed account is reported as open
- Accounts reported with incorrect current balance or credit limit
- The same debt listed multiple times
- Accounts listed multiple times with different creditors
- Accounts mistakenly reported as late or delinquent
- Incorrect payment history on credit cards
- Incorrect date of last payment
What’s the best way to dispute items on your credit report?
There are three ways to start a dispute if any inaccurate, incomplete, outdated, or erroneous information shows up on your credit report:
- By phone
- By mail
- On the Internet (online)
There’s no “best” way to dispute items on a credit report. The method you choose to dispute mistakes on your credit report depends on your personal preference.
|Credit bureau||Phone number||Online|
|Experian||1 (866) 200-6020||Experian, P.O. Box 4500 Allen, TX 75013||Website|
|Equifax||1 (866) 349-5191||Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 740256. Atlanta, GA 30374-0256||Website|
|TransUnion||1 (800) 916-8800||TransUnion LLC, PO Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016-2000||Website|
- Disputing credit report errors by phone
If you’ve found inaccurate information on your credit report, one of the ways to dispute the mistakes is to contact a credit reporting agency by phone. While you can tell the bureau about the error over the phone, you may still be asked to submit documentation online or by mail.
You can also call the bureau after submitting the requested documentation online or by mail to confirm receipt and check the status of your dispute.
- Disputing credit report errors by mail
The dispute letter should contain the following information:
- Your full name
- Your date of birth
- Your phone number and address
- A 10-digit confirmation number of the credit report
- A copy of the report that contains a disputed item
- Summary of the error on your report
- Evidence to prove that the information that appears on your report is incorrect (credit card statements, bank statements, receipts, correspondence, etc.)
- Disputing credit report errors online
Many consumers prefer to file credit report disputes online because doing so is usually easier and faster. When disputing mistakes on your credit report online, you can do it through the credit bureaus’ websites or Annual Credit Report.
When you go to a credit bureau’s dispute page, you’ll be asked to verify your identity and provide the number of your credit report. Then, you’ll be able to choose the reason for your dispute and explain why you believe the information is inaccurate, outdated, or incomplete.
How to dispute credit report inaccuracies?
We’ve prepared a step-by-step guide to help you win the dispute and improve your credit score.
- Identify incorrect information on your credit report
You should check your credit report for accuracy by reviewing the reports from all the three major credit agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Another way to review your credit report and check for any incorrect items is by getting all three credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Confirm the error
Once you’ve found a mistake on your credit report, contact the company that provided incomplete or inaccurate information to the credit bureau, the so-called furnisher. You will need to verify the furnisher’s records and confirm that the error exists.
Many disputes are resolved at this point. If the credit report error wasn’t fixed after contacting the furnisher, your next step is to get in touch with the credit bureau and file a dispute.
- File a dispute
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows consumers to file credit report disputes against both the credit bureau and the furnisher (the company that reported the inaccurate information). When consumers dispute credit scores because of an error on their credit report and win the dispute, the bureau and furnisher are required to fix the erroneous, incomplete, or inaccurate information about the consumer.
As mentioned earlier, you can dispute the accuracy of an item on your credit report by mail, by phone, or online.
- Wait until the investigation is complete
The credit reporting agency will take the time to investigate your dispute. Typically, credit bureaus complete an investigation within 30 days of receiving a consumer’s dispute letter.
The bureau will get in touch with the furnisher that reported the disputed items to verify the information that appears to be incorrect. After investigating the dispute, the furnisher will report back to the bureau.
If the furnisher confirms that the disputed item is not accurate, they will be required to notify the three credit reporting companies and tell them to correct the erroneous information on your credit report.
- Notify all parties that received your credit report in the past six months
After you win the dispute, you can request the credit reporting agency to:
- Notify all parties that have received and reviewed your credit report over the past six months; and
- Send a copy of your fixed credit report to anyone who received it over the past two years.
If the disputed item was not corrected and the error still shows up on your credit report, you can ask the credit reporting agency to include a statement in your future credit reports explaining why you believe the information is incorrect.
How to track the statute of your dispute?
After you submit your dispute, the credit reporting company will usually send you status updates via email. This will allow you to track the status of your dispute. You may receive the following status updates:
- The bureau has received your dispute.
- Your dispute is being investigated.
- Your dispute investigation is complete, and your credit report is being updated.
- Your credit report has been successfully updated according to the results of the investigation.
Incorrect information on your credit report can cause damage to your credit score, which is why it’s crucial to fix any mistakes or inaccuracies that show up on the report. You should regularly check your credit report to make sure that it’s error-free and complete. If you find any incorrect information on your credit report, you should take steps to dispute the errors.
What’s the best time to dispute a credit report?It’s important to notify a credit bureau of any errors on your credit report immediately after you spot the mistake. The bureau could take 30 days to investigate your dispute, which is why it’s best to dispute the credit report as soon as possible.
Can I dispute accurate information on my credit report?You have a right to dispute any information on your credit report, even if you know that it’s correct. However, when disputing accurate credit report items, you need to understand that you may not win your dispute because credit reporting companies want your credit report to be accurate, complete, and verifiable.