How to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report

How to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report

Credit report errors are not uncommon. In fact, some studies suggest that as many as 25 percent of credit reports could contain serious errors. Common credit report errors include outdated personal information, mistaken or fraudulent accounts and incorrect account details.

If you believe there may be an error on your credit report, you have a right to dispute it with the credit bureau reporting the error. The same process generally applies if you have a legitimate error, like incorrect names or addresses. Here are some important steps to take as you dispute credit errors.

Step 1: Get your free credit reports.

You are entitled to receive one free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) each year. If you've already used up your free reports for the year, you can still gain access to them directly through the credit bureaus, but you'll have to pay a fee. Access your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports for free anytime through Credit Karma.

In some cases, the error may not be reported to all three credit bureaus. Check each credit report carefully to find out if this is the case. You only need to dispute the error with the bureau(s) reporting the incorrect information.

Step 2: Gather documentation supporting your dispute.

In order to dispute the error with the credit bureaus, you'll need proper documentation that supports your claim. For instance, if the year that you opened a mortgage account is being incorrectly reported, find documentation that proves when the mortgage was originated. Circle the error on your credit reports and make copies of your supporting documentation to send with your dispute letter.

Step 3: Draft a dispute letter.

This is the letter that you'll send to the bureaus reporting the mistake on your credit report. It's a good idea to dispute the error in writing and keep a copy for yourself. Send it certified and mark "return receipt requested" so that you'll have a record of the credit bureau receiving it. Follow the FTC's guidelines for properly formulating your dispute letter. In your letter, include your supporting documents, as well as the credit report with the error clearly marked.

Step 4: Wait, then follow up on your dispute.

The credit bureau is required to investigate your dispute and will usually do so within 30 days of receiving notification of the dispute. The bureau will also send any information about the inaccuracy to the company or organization that provided the information, such as your credit card issuer or mortgage lender. The company will then investigate the dispute and report back to the credit bureau.

If your dispute is successful, the company is required to notify all three credit bureaus. The credit bureau also has to report the results back to you and include a free copy of your credit report if there was a change made on it due to the investigation.

If you haven't heard back about your dispute after around a month, contact the credit bureau to follow up.

What to do if your dispute didn't work:

Your dispute may not result in a corrected credit report. A 2005 report on Credit Reporting Literacy showed that, in one survey, only 69 percent of credit error disputes resulted in the item's removal from credit reports. If your dispute isn't satisfied, it could be due to one of the following scenarios:

The disputed item wasn't erroneous. If this is the case, you'll be unable to dispute the error further. You cannot remove correct information from your credit report, even if a credit repair agency claims that you can.

The credit bureau claims the item isn't erroneous, but you have proof that says otherwise. In this scenario, you have an alternative way of disputing, thanks to legislation put in place by the FTC in 2009. Instead of repeating your dispute to the credit bureau, go directly to the furnisher of the line of credit to perform what is called a "direct dispute." For instance, if the error is a misreported late credit card payment, you would submit a new dispute letter to the credit card issuer, including the following information:

  • Identifying information - Include your full name and account number.
  • The purpose of your dispute - Be clear about what you are disputing and why.
  • Documentation that supports your dispute - Send copies of original documents that can prove that you paid an account on time, such as your credit card statement.

Send your dispute to an address designated for consumer complaints. If there isn't one provided, send it to the company's mailing address. Make sure to keep a copy of all the information that you send, and just like your original dispute letter, send it by certified mail, marked "return receipt requested." The company is required to investigate your dispute. If they refuse to dispute your claim, you may be allowed to take legal action. Read more at the FTC's website.

Conclusion

It's important to dispute incorrect information on your credit report because it can have an impact on your credit health and financial future. To ensure that your credit report remains clear of errors in the future, monitor your credit with Credit Karma.

Disclaimer: All information posted to this site was accurate at the time of its initial publication. Efforts have been made to keep the content up to date and accurate. However, Credit Karma does not make any guarantees about the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. For complete details of any products mentioned, visit bank or issuer website.

All Comments

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1 Contribution
5344 People Helped

Helpful to 5344 out of 5815 people

I just want to call to everybody's attention something VERY IMPORTANT I learned about accounts in collections, etc. ---- and the advice I I often hear on posts like these, where someone says,  "just call the lawyer's office to ask about it...." or "just call the company....", "just call the credit card company", etc.  That is NOT always good advice!!!!  That can be VERY BAD ADVICE.  The reason is, there's a STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS on all debts.  I think if it's a "written" agreement, like a credit card would be, then the statute is 4 years (could be different state to state, I'm in California). 

Anyway, after the statute has run, meaning after 4 years - FROM YOUR LAST CONTACT WITH THEM - they can no longer sue you for that debt!!  But!!......IF YOU CALL THEM (or contact them in any way) about the debt ....that date it STARTS THE STATUTE TO RUN ALL OVER AGAIN!!  In other words, from the date you called them -- they now have 4 YEARS from that date that they can sue you.  This is really important!! 

If, for example, 3 yrs and 11 months ago was the last time you talked to that debt collector, credit card company, lawyer, or anyone else that's tried to collect on the debt, or who you owe the debt to, then it's NOT in your best interests to call them....because they only have 1 mo left wherein they can sue you.  Whereas, if you call them, they then have 4 more years to try to collect on that debt & to sue you!!!

I'm not a lawyer, this isn't legal advice, this is just what I learned about the law on my own.  Hope it helps.

1 Contribution
118 People Helped

Helpful to 118 out of 145 people

I saw above a comment that read, "Sorry to hear what happened. I have some experience in the financial area. Send me all of your information and I can help you". 

Dont send your financial information to someone YOU DON'T KNOW!!!

Can I say it any plainer.

1 Contribution
1645 People Helped

Helpful to 1635 out of 2360 people

I cannot dispute something if I don't know what it is; all I am asking is for you to tell me what it is.

9 Contributions
57 People Helped

Helpful to 27 out of 35 people

It is amazing how many people on this section think Credit Karma can do anything about your credit issues.  They are just a clearinghouse that presents what the CRA's have on file. Please STOP putting ypur personal info in this blog for ALL to read.  Order your credit report and dispute all the wrong info to the credit company and also to the 3 Credit Agencies.  The address to every creditor is on your credit report.  It will take months but start with one and work your way through it before going on to the next.  They have 30 days to answer you.  Ask the info be VERIFIED or removed.   Most companies will choose removal because verifing is too much work.  

ALSO - the guy that is upset about all his past closed store accounts - closed accounts - paid off or not - hurt your credit. And ask the one company who you paid late to just once to change that report based on timely payments for the year after - they will do it as a "good faith" favor to you - you just have to ask.

8 Contributions
625 People Helped

Helpful to 252 out of 321 people

 As I posted previously I've been contacting the various credit agencies and individual companies to clear up inaccuracies on my credit report.  Well TransUnion is the first to respond, however the response if very scary.  In my mailbox was a brown envelope, the address listed was mine and on first glance the name on the envelope looked to be mine so I opened it.  Inside was a CD from TransUnion.  I didn't know what that was about so my attention became more focused on what I was holding.  Turns out the envelope and the name on the CD was NOT mine (very similar but NOT mine).  Nice...so not only has TransUnion sent me information for someone who is NOT me, they more than likely sent MY information to this individual who is NOT me.  Thanks TransUnion...glad you believe you are diligent enough to keep watch over the nations credit, which grants you access to the nations vital statistics. FANTASTIC!  Ohhh and thanks for allowing me the opportunity to open someone else's mail!  Just Great!  I'm sure if I finally do get through to a human at TransUnion they will be sure to let me know that I committed a federal offense as a way of deflecting blame for their error in sending me someone elses credit information and possibly sending my credit information to someone else.

1 Contribution
462 People Helped

Helpful to 462 out of 647 people

How can you dispute an account that you never opened - such as an auto loan? There would be no proof - just my word against whoever. Help? 

1 Contribution
194 People Helped

ID Theft

Helpful to 194 out of 292 people

i AM A VICTIM OF IDENTY THEFT DO I NEED TO CALL EVERYONE ON THIS REPORT THERE MUST BE  25 NAMES AND CREDIT CARD/BANK NAMES

We highly recommend that you go to the FTC's website on identity theft. There, you'll find lots of helpful resources on what steps to take.

Review by
CK Moderator

1 Contribution
172 People Helped

Helpful to 172 out of 241 people

 How can i  dispute this claim if i have no idea what it is!

1 Contribution
93 People Helped

Dispute

Helpful to 93 out of 126 people

Where can I find a dispite form to have something removed from my credit file?

Please read the article above for information on how to dispute items on your credit report. All of our credit report information comes straight from your TransUnion credit report. Check your full credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com for more information.

Review by
CK Moderator

1 Contribution
112 People Helped

Helpful to 112 out of 167 people

I need to dispute the public records that I have on my report.  Not sure what they are for please help.

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