How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
In 2021, Consumer Reports conducted a poll of 6,000 volunteers and found that at least 34% of them had at least one error on their credit report. Although incorrect personal information may not harm your credit score, it can make it more difficult to access your report. Account errors, on the other hand, may impact your rating – and usually not for the better. Most people, unfortunately, don’t even know there are discrepancies on their credit reports until they are in the process of requesting a loan or other credit. That’s why it’s so important to frequently check your report for accuracy. Thankfully, filing a credit dispute is free and it doesn’t affect your credit. The changes made after a dispute is filed, however, may help increase your score. Not sure how to dispute errors on your credit report? Just follow the steps below.
First, Review Your Credit Report Information Frequently
To ensure the information on your credit report is accurate, you should review it at least once a year. We recommend requesting a report from all three major credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – since there may be different data on each. You can order them at the same time or spread the requests out during the year. Either way, you are typically entitled to one free copy annually at each credit bureau.
Due to the pandemic, however, you can now get a free copy of your credit report every week (all three credit bureaus) through December 2023 at AnnualCreditReport.com. In connection with various settlements, you may also request up to six Equifax credit reports annually (until 12/31/26) by using the same link.
What to Look For on Your Credit Report
The information on your credit report can help you get approved for credit cards, loans, and even certain employment opportunities. It’s up to you to ensure that it’s accurate. When reviewing your credit reports, look closely at:
- Account Names. If you don’t recognize an account, it’s possible that someone may have opened an account in your name without your knowledge or there’s a reporting error.
- Balances. Does an account balance seem too high? There could be fraudulent charges on it or your creditor is reporting an incorrect amount.
- Payment History. Pay close attention to any incorrect late payment reports. Your payment history is a key component of calculating your credit score, so any erroneous information could lower your score.
- Hard Inquiries. If there are hard inquiries on your credit report but you haven’t applied for a new credit card or loan recently, this could indicate that someone is trying to take our credit in your name.
The sooner you catch inaccuracies in your report the better. And, never worry that requesting your credit report will hurt your credit score – that is a myth.
Next, Dispute Errors With The Credit Bureaus
Once you’ve identified errors on your credit report, it’s time to fix them. If it’s an account-related error, try reaching out to the creditor or lender first. Once the item is corrected, the lender or creditor will provide the credit bureau with the updated information.
If you need to file with the credit bureau, be sure to dispute incorrect items with each credit bureau that includes the information on its report. You can file a dispute online or by mail using the information and links provided below:
File a dispute online or mail a Dispute Request Form to:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
File a dispute online or mail a Request for Investigation Form to:
TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
File a dispute online or mail a Dispute Form to:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Documents You May Need to Provide
Although filing a dispute is free, you will need to provide information to verify your identity, as well as documentation to support your claim. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Copies of your government-issued ID
- Proof of address (utility bill, bank statement, etc.)
- Account statements or a letter from the lender showing the account was corrected
- Evidence of identity theft (police report, fraud requests submitted to lenders/creditors or credit bureaus, letters from banks)
- Canceled checks or proof of payment
Only include copies. Do not send originals, as these will not be returned after submitting your request.
Finally, Track Your Dispute Status
Once you’ve submitted a dispute, it typically takes less than 30 days for the credit bureau to investigate your claim and make a ruling. You can check the status of your dispute anytime by accessing your online account for the specific bureau.
If the bureau finds that your dispute is valid, it will make the necessary changes to your credit report. Information that cannot be verified will be updated or deleted. Any information verified as correct will remain on your credit report.
Steps to Take If You Disagree With The Outcome
If the credit bureau has determined that the item you disputed will remain on your credit report, there are some additional steps you can take if you disagree with the decision.
- Contact The Information Source. The credit bureau provides this information on your credit report. If you have evidence that the information they provided is incorrect, contact them directly and request that they update their information.
- Write a Statement of Dispute. This letter should explain why you believe the information on your credit report is inaccurate. Request that the credit bureau include it with your credit report so future lenders/creditors will see it whenever they pull a report.
- File Another Dispute. If you have additional evidence to support your claim, you may file a new dispute.
Although you can file a dispute on your own, you may find it beneficial to work with a credit coach or counselor if there are multiple items to correct. For a free credit consultation, contact CreditSolver.org at 904-490-9087 or email email@example.com.