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Credit Report Dispute – A How To Guide

Credit Report errors are not uncommon. In fact, A 2013 Federal Trade Commission study found 1 in 5 consumers have errors on their reports. Those odds should make any of us want to check our reports to see if credit report dispute is needed.

While you can’t stop errors from being made, credit report dispute is easier than you might think. The following steps show you how to correct errors on your credit report.

Where do I start?

First, you need to obtain copies of all three credit reports – one from each credit reporting agency (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax). AnnualCreditReport.com is the only official distributor of free credit reports authorized by federal law. You will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth to access your report. To ensure your security, each company may ask you for relevant information that only you would know. You may be asked for different identifying information from each agency.

Carefully examine each report for errors. Some common mistakes to watch for include:

  • wrong balances
  • inaccurate collection accounts
  • missing accounts (the ones with good payment history and low balances can help you)
  • Loan or credit card payments were inadvertently applied to the wrong account
  • Inaccurate personal information (such as account opened by someone with a similar name, similar Social Security Number or misspellings of your name)

What if I find an error?

If you do find information that is wrong or a mistake, credit report dispute is the next step. You will need to contact the credit bureau that is showing erroneous information. Your credit score uses the information on your credit reports to calculate your score, so inaccurate or incorrect information on your credit report can hurt you. Here’s how you contact each of the credit reporting agencies:

Equifax

Equifax Disputes
All disputes with Equifax are handled online.

Experian

Experian Disputes
All disputes with Experian are handled online.

TransUnion -- 1-800-916-8800
TransUnion Disputes
2 Baldwin Place, P.O. BOX 1000
Chester, PA 19022

A helpful sample credit report dispute letter can assist you with how to structure your dispute and what type of information you will need to include.

Keep Good Records

It is important to keep good records as you process a credit report dispute.  If you are sending any information via US mail, be sure to obtain proof of receipt (such as sending it certified mail) for your own protection. The credit reporting agency and the creditor in dispute have 30 days under federal law to investigate the item being disputed, so it’s important to keep track of all documentation sent to them, including the times and dates of any phone conversations, and proof of mailing for anything you send regarding the dispute.

Can I Dispute Negative Information That is Accurate?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives each of us the right to challenge information on our credit reports with which we don’t agree. There’s nothing in that law that prohibits consumers from disputing information on their credit reports for any reason. You can dispute anything on your credit report that is not true and verifiable -- including negative information.  Attempting to dispute accurate information that you simply want to have removed is not typically going to work out in your favor if the information is verifiable by the creditor.

Real errors on your credit report can have a serious impact on your credit score, so it’s important to keep a careful eye on those reports. Check your credit score at least once every year to make sure problems don’t crop up!

Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today!

 
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Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.


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