- Your credit report is important to your financial well-being, and errors can hurt your score and other factors.
- Common errors include incorrect personal information, potentially fraudulent accounts, and debts marked as outstanding despite you already paid them off.
- It’s important to regularly check your credit report (from all three credit reporting agencies) for errors.
- You can file a dispute online, by phone, or by mail with all three credit reporting agencies.
- Credit reporting agencies must respond in a timely manner (approximately 30 days).
Unfortunately, credit report errors are common and can negatively affect your credit — the official record of your credit history used by lenders, landlords, government agencies, and potential employers to evaluate your creditworthiness and overall background.
Disputing errors on your credit report can be a long and frustrating process, but it’s ultimately worth pursuing, as it can help qualify for everything from personal loans to rental applications.
Let’s review what you need to know about identifying and disputing errors on your credit report to avoid any negative financial impacts.
Identifying Errors On Your Credit Report
Awareness is the first step in disputing errors on your credit report.
Credit monitoring tools like Credit Karma can help by automatically notifying you of changes to your credit report. Some credit cards come with similar services as an included feature.
You can request a free copy of your credit report directly from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year, which you can then review and note any errors.
Common Credit Report Errors
Several types of errors can appear on your credit report. Some of the most common ones include:
- Incorrect personal information
- Accounts that don’t belong to you
- Late payments that were actually made on time
- Debts that have been paid off but are marked as ‘outstanding’
- Incorrect credit limits
- Inaccurate or outdated bankruptcy information
Disputing Errors On Your Credit Report
To dispute an error, you’ll need to contact the credit reporting agency that has the error on file.
You can file a dispute online, by phone, or by mail. Make sure to provide as much documentation as possible, including copies of bills, receipts, or other proof of payment.
Here’s how it works:
- Request a free copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies.
- Carefully review each report and note any errors you find.
- Contact the credit reporting agency that has the error on file.
- File a dispute online, by phone, or by mail.
- Provide as much documentation as possible, including copies of bills, receipts, or other proof of payment.
- Wait for the credit reporting agency to investigate the error and contact the creditor or lender to verify the information.
- Receive a new copy of your credit report once the investigation is complete.
- Review your credit report to confirm changes were accurate.
The Three Credit Reporting Agencies
If you find an error on your credit report, you’ll need to contact the credit reporting agency that has the error on file.
You can file a dispute online, by phone, or by mail. Be prepared to provide as much relevant information and supporting documentation as possible.
Mail: Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Equifax Credit Dispute Page
Mail: Experian Dispute, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013
Experian Credit Dispute Page
Mail: TransUnion LLC, Consumer Dispute Center, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Transunion Credit Dispute Page
What to Expect When Disputing Credit Report Errors
Credit bureaus must investigate your dispute and remove any inaccurate or incomplete information within 30 days, notifying you of the results within five business days of their decision.
If the information is found to be inaccurate, the credit reporting agency will remove it. You’ll receive a new copy of your credit report once the investigation is complete.
What To Write In Your Dispute Letter
When disputing an error on your credit report, it’s important to provide as much supporting documentation as possible to prove the legitimacy of your request.
The FTC provides a sample letter on its site along with the following advice:
- List and describe disputed items
- Enclose and describe supporting documents
- Send your letter by certified mail with “return receipt requested” to confirm delivery
Pro tip: Keep a copy of every letter and document you send for future reference. This can help when reporting the same error to a different credit bureau or if mistakes resurface in the future.
The Benefits Of Correcting Errors On Your Credit Report
Correcting errors on your credit report can significantly impact your credit score, helping you qualify for better interest rates on loans, credit cards, and mortgages. Improved credit can also help with renting an apartment or securing a job.
Multiple unrecognized transactions could be a sign that someone has stolen your identity, and correcting these errors can help identify this type of problem.
How To Monitor Your Credit And Stay Up-To-Date With Your Credit Score And Factors
Monitoring your credit is an important part of managing your finances. More than 280,000 CFPB complaints were filed in 2020 — twice the credit-reporting complaints in 2019!
Proactively reviewing your credit report can help identify and resolve errors early on.
Staying Up To Date With Your Credit Report
You can request a copy of your credit report from each of the three main credit reporting agencies once a year.
You can also sign up for credit monitoring services that will alert you to changes in your credit report. Some credit monitoring services may also offer advice for improving your score, among other perks.
What Is A Credit Report?
A credit report is a document that contains a record of your credit history, including information about your credit accounts, payment history, and outstanding debts. Lenders, landlords, and employers use your credit report to evaluate your creditworthiness.
How Do I Check My Credit Report?
You can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three main credit reporting agencies once a year. Carefully review each report and make a note of any errors you find.
How Do I Dispute Errors On My Credit Report?
To dispute an error, you’ll need to contact the credit reporting agency that has the error on file. The agency is required to investigate your dispute within 30 days and remove any inaccurate or incomplete information.
How Do I Prove The Legitimacy Of My Request?
When disputing an error, provide as much supporting documentation as possible, including copies of bills, receipts, and official communications from the company or lender.
This will help the agency investigate your dispute more efficiently and effectively, increasing the chances that the error will be corrected in a timely manner.
Is Correcting Minor Credit Report Errors Worth The Effort?
Though small errors like a typo in your name or address may seem insignificant, any mistake can affect your credit score and other factors in the future.
It’s best to follow up on any errors you notice. This type of error should be especially easy to fix and unlikely to be met with resistance.
How Long Does It Take To Correct Errors On My Credit Report?
Once the credit reporting agency has received your dispute, they will have 30 days to investigate the error. Any updates will apply to your credit report after they’ve made their decision. This does not automatically update credit reports from the other agencies.
Credit reporting agencies must notify you of the results of their investigation within five business days. They must also follow up with any company they had previously provided with this incorrect information. Any follow-up correspondence or additional documents you send may extend this timeline.
What Happens To My Credit Score During The Investigation?
The disputed item will be marked with a credit reporting compliance code of “XB.” When pulling your credit, an entity like FICO, for instance, will ignore the marked item when evaluating your credit until the investigation period ends. Your credit score will not change in the meantime.
How Does Correcting Errors On My Credit Report Benefit Me?
Correcting errors on your credit report can significantly impact your credit score. A higher credit score can help you qualify for better loan interest rates, get approved for a credit card or apartment rental, or even secure a job.
What If I Think I’ve Been A Victim Of Identity Theft?
If you see accounts or transactions on your credit report that you don’t recognize, it could be a sign that someone has stolen your identity.
Consider this type of error especially urgent. Follow up with credit agencies accordingly to prevent future fraudulent transactions.
What If The Credit Bureau Denies My Request?
If the credit bureau denies your request, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or even take legal action against the credit bureau.
Consult with an attorney specializing in credit reporting and consumer protection law before pursuing legal action. They can help you understand your rights and represent you in court if necessary.
Can Previously Removed Items Reappear On My Credit Report?
While errors can resurface, the bureau must certify the accuracy of their decision to do so and notify you within five business days of reinserting the deleted items.