How to Report and Dispute Credit Report Errors

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Errors on a credit report are far more common than you'd think and can have a detrimental impact on your credit score, job opportunities, interest rates, and many other important facets of your life. Almost seven out of every ten credit reports have at least one error of some kind. Some of the more common credit report errors include:

  • Someone opening an account under your name (identity theft)

  • A misfiling by a retailer regarding your account

  • Honest mistakes that confuse your name with a family member's name or a stranger with a similar name

  • Incorrect postings that claim you missed a payment of some kind

Many other types of errors can appear on credit reports, so you need to be diligent when you're looking at your credit report.

Now that you know a bit more about what kinds of credit report errors to look for, you need to know what to do about them when you find them. Remember that you're entirely within your rights to dispute credit report errors. Credit bureaus are required by law to investigate all credit report disputes, and the source of the error — e.g., a retailer or a utility company — is also required by law to correct the mistake that it reported with every credit bureau that received the incorrect information. Here are the recommended steps for reporting and disputing credit report errors:

  • Know your rights.
    You first need to know your rights in case a credit bureau employee or creditor tries to weasel and dismiss your claim. Unless the credit bureaus have reason to believe that your claim is frivolous, they must investigate your claim within 30 days.
  • Report the error.
    Report the error on your credit report by contacting the credit bureau(s) that listed the error in writing. When you contact them, make sure to include:
    • Your complete name and address, and a letter that clearly points out the incorrect information

    • Copies of any documentation that supports your position

    • An accurate, truthful explanation of why you're disputing each error

    • A request that the error(s) be removed from your credit report

Be sure to send your report via certified mail, "return receipt requested," so you have verification of receipt.

  • File a dispute.
    Contact the organization that filed the incorrect information, and let them know that you're disputing the error; again, do this in writing. Also include copies of documents that support your claim. If the credit bureau's investigation finds that the errors you reported are correct, they're required to send you the results in writing and to provide a free copy of your credit report showing any change(s) made. At your request, the credit bureau(s) must send correction notices to anyone who received the incorrect report during the previous six months. You can also have them send the corrected report to anyone who received the incorrect credit report for employment purposes over the last 24 months.

As you can see, it takes a little work to report and dispute credit report errors, but it's absolutely in your best interest to do so. Really, you're the only one who has the power, the right, and the information to do it. Some effort and follow-up on your part can save you a very respectable amount of money on interest rates from that point forward and keep your credit report working for you instead of against you.


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