If you've found an error on your credit report, you can choose to either dispute it with the credit bureau or with the "data furnisher," the company that provided the information to the bureau (for things like your credit card information, this would be your creditor). Your data furnisher may allow disputes online, but since this can vary from company to company, we'll cover a step-by-step process for disputing via postal mail.
Get to the Point
Companies get letters with lots of venting in them, but if you want the process to go as quickly as possible, focus on the relevant details of the dispute so they can get right to it. Norm Magnuson, Vice President of Public Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), says, "Put that information at the top of the letter. The less they have to sift through, the faster your dispute can be resolved."
Also, if you're disputing multiple items, make sure that's really clear in your letter.
Know What to Include
The FTC has a sample dispute letter that you can use as a starting point but you'll need to modify it for your specific situation. Make sure to include the following items.
- Identifying information - Include your full name and which account you're referring to.
- The purpose of your dispute - Be clear about what you're disputing and why.
- Copy of your credit report - Circle the error on your credit report and make copies of your report.
- 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. Or, for example, if the year that you opened a mortgage account is being incorrectly reported, find documentation that proves when you actually got the mortgage.
Find the Right Recipient
You can usually send your dispute to an address designated for consumer complaints. There may also be contact information for the data furnisher listed on the credit report itself. If there isn't one you can find, you can contact the company to find out the best address to use. Make sure you keep a copy of all the information that you send, and send it by certified mail, marked "return receipt requested."
The company is required to investigate your dispute. If they refuse to correct your inaccurate information, you can take further action.
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