Discovering incorrect information on your credit report can be stressful. Fortunately, there are practical steps you can take to dispute errors on your credit report and have them removed. So, what should you do if you’ve spotted a mistake in your report? Here is how to dispute errors on your credit report to ensure you can get errors on your credit report, like identity theft, corrected quickly and thoroughly.
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What is the Process to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report?
Identifying and removing incorrect data on your credit report is a standardized procedure that only takes a few steps.
Check Your Credit Report
Whether you plan to apply for a loan, buy a house, or review your personal information, checking your credit report periodically is good practice. The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the three credit reporting bureaus – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax – to provide you with one free credit report every 12 months (at www.freecreditreport.com).
Whether you request all three at once or space them out throughout the year is up to you, but you should take advantage of them and get a copy of your credit report. One important reason you should personally check your credit report is to spot any incorrect information that may have made its way into it.
It’s not rare for consumers to notice a credit report error, and if they leave it unaddressed – small as it may be – it could have negative consequences the next time they try to apply for a loan or line of credit. Once you discover what you think might be an error, you’ll want to speak with the bureau where you found the mistake.
Contacting the Credit Bureau
If you detect an inaccuracy in your credit report, you should first contact the credit reporting agency where you found the incorrect information. The three agencies all provide phone and snail mail contact details as follows:
|Agency||Contact address||Phone #|
Equifax Information Services
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30348
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion LLC Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Information to Include
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a helpful sample letter for when you send your dispute in writing. In the letter, ensure you are as clear as possible when you describe what is incorrect and why, and request that the information be corrected or deleted.
Your letter should include the following information:
- Your full name and address
- A copy of your credit report with any errors clearly marked
- A list of each mistake and why you want it fixed
You’ll also want to include copies of any documents in your possession that support your claims. Before you send your letter and documents, make copies of everything so you may have an extra set on you (assuming you keep the originals, which you should). Finally, send the letter via certified mail and with the return receipt requested when at the post office.
Once the credit reporting company receives the notification of your dispute, it must investigate the mistake you’re pointing out. The company has one month to review the information and provide you with a conclusion.
After a dispute is filed, the credit bureau usually has 30 days to investigate your claim and provide a response, although sometimes the merchant or business that reported the error has 45 days to respond. The bureau can take two steps: investigating your claim or ruling it “irrelevant.” Should the bureau deem your request “frivolous” or “irrelevant,” it must notify of the reason why in writing. A “frivolous” does not mean your claim is finished – the bureau may request more information as supporting evidence, for example.
If your claim is not irrelevant, the bureau will submit your information and forward all details of your dispute to the merchant or business that reported the error. You should reach out to the business and the reporting bureau to maximize the chances that your case is received and inspected.
If the information merchant or provider finds that there is indeed a mistake, it must report it back to all three credit bureaus, not just the one in whose report you noticed the error. You are entitled to receive written results of the investigation and a free copy of your (updated) credit report, which does not count as your free yearly copy; you won’t see the incorrect information again unless the provider determines that there was no error.
Also, ask the reporting company to notify anyone who recently received your credit report of any corrections, and you may also request that an updated report be sent to anyone who received a copy for employment reasons in the last two years.
If the investigation determines that there was no error, you can ask the reporting company to include a record of your dispute in your file so that anyone who requests your report will be aware of the contention. It’s important to understand that if you notice that some information is missing from your credit reports – such as a line of credit or a loan – it may not necessarily be by mistake.
Some lenders may not supply information about your account with them simply because they’re not required to.
If there is unfavorable data on your report, and it is correct, only time will eventually erase it. Remember that faults such as a bankruptcy claim will remain on your report for ten years, and evidence of several missed or late payments will be marked against you for up to seven years.
Finding and fixing errors on your credit report is essential to maintaining a healthy financial profile. While the process may seem intricate and time-consuming, rectifying errors on your credit report is crucial. It can positively impact credit scores, potentially leading to better interest rates, improved access to credit, and overall financial stability. Remember, vigilance in monitoring your credit report and proactive steps to fix any errors are essential to ensuring an accurate and fair credit decision.
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