Guide to Disputing Errors on Credit Reports
If you disagree with something on your credit report, you can dispute the error online, through telephone, or by mail. Online and telephone disputes are quick but can be less reliable than mail.
Step 1: Figure out who is making the error
- Get a copy of your credit reports from the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. These are available for free from AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Send a separate dispute to the creditor/lender in question as well as the credit bureaus that are reporting the inaccurate information.
Step 2: Write a dispute letter
- The letter must include your identity, a brief and specific description of the error or problem, and the action you want the creditor/lender or credit bureau to take. See the next page for a sample letter.
- You are more likely to be successful if your descriptions are brief and specific. These organizations receive many letters and staff members may not be able to carefully review long letters.
- Include copies (not originals) of the following documents:
- Your government-issued ID
- Copy of the credit report with the error(s) circled or highlighted
- Documents that support your dispute
Step 3: Mail your letter
- Keep a copy of your dispute letter and enclosures for your records.
- Mail the dispute. Regular mail is fine, although certified mail would allow you to have a tracking number and “return receipt” to know when the bureau received your letter.
Step 4: Follow-up
- The credit bureau has 30 days to tell you their decision in writing, update your report and give you a free copy of your updated report.
- If your dispute is resolved, you can ask the credit bureau to send the corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months for standard purposes or past two years for employment.
- If your dispute is not resolved, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports.
- Bingham, Al (2011). The Road to 850. Layton, UT: CP Publishing
- Federal Trade Commission (October 2011). Disputing Errors on Credit Reports. (Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved from: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0151-disputing-errors-credit-reports)
Credit Report Fall Off Times
There are set time frames for how long negative information remains on a credit report. In general, negative information more than 7-10 years old from the date of last activity is removed from a file.
Getting Free Credit Reports
Federal law entitles you to one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) in a 12-month period.
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