An accurate credit report is essential for your financial health. However, errors on credit reports are common—and they can potentially lead to higher interest rates or credit denials. That’s why it’s important to dispute major errors that might affect your creditworthiness.
The good news is that the credit bureaus are required to correct any information in your credit report that is wrong or incomplete. However, it’s up to you to find any errors and alert the credit bureaus about them through an official dispute process. Here’s how to dispute an error on your credit report.
Review Your Credit Report Regularly
The first step is to keep an eye on your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. On a regular basis, you should thoroughly examine your reports for any inaccuracies or discrepancies, especially regarding account details, payment history, and public records. If you see any accounts you don’t recognize, incorrect balances, or late payments that you believe are incorrect, make a note of it. (A ScoreSense account makes this step easy by providing regular access to all three of your credit reports and sending you credit alerts when changes are reported.)
Gather Supporting Documentation
If you flagged an error in step one, you’ll need to gather all relevant documentation related to the information you want to dispute. That might include account statements, payment receipts, correspondence with creditors, and any other records that support your claim. Make copies of all these documents so you can provide them to the bureau during the dispute process and keep copies for yourself.
Contact the Credit Bureau
You will need to contact the credit bureau that has an error listed on your report; if all three have an error, you will need to contact all three bureaus. You may get the quickest response by contacting the bureaus through the online forms available from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can also contact each credit bureau via mail or phone.
In your correspondence, clearly state your name, address, and account number, and explain the specific error you have identified. Provide a detailed explanation of why you believe the information is incorrect. If you have supporting documents, attach them to your message. Request that the bureau investigate and correct the error and include a copy of your credit report with the highlighted error or errors.
Notify the Creditor
At the same time you contact the credit bureau, it’s a good idea to contact the creditor associated with the disputed information also. Explain the error and provide a written explanation supported by any relevant documentation. You will also need to request that the creditor update their records and provide the corrected information to the credit bureaus. Be sure to keep copies of all correspondence. Consider sending the information via certified mail with a return receipt to ensure proof of delivery.
Wait for a Response
After a credit bureau has been contacted about a dispute, they have 30 to 45 days to investigate the dispute and respond to you in writing. For the next 30 to 45 days, keep an eye on your mailbox for any information from the credit bureau. If the bureau finds that the information you disputed truly is inaccurate, they are required to correct it and send you an updated credit report. If their investigation does not resolve the error, you will need to escalate the dispute.
Escalate the Dispute
If a credit bureau fails to correct an error you’ve found or refuses to investigate it further, you have the right to escalate your dispute. You can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and provide all the relevant details, including your correspondence with the credit bureau. The CFPB will review your complaint and work with the bureau to ensure that the matter will be resolved.
Continually Monitor Your Credit Report
Because credit information changes regularly, it’s wise to continue monitoring your credit reports to make sure any errors have been corrected and to keep an eye out for new errors. If the error you disputed stays on your report or reappears, you’ll need to repeat the dispute process with all the credit bureaus and creditors involved. It may take persistence to maintain an accurate credit report and protect your financial standing.
When you find an error on your credit report, disputing it can be important for safeguarding your financial reputation. ScoreSense makes it easy to stay updated on your credit information by tracking all three of your credit reports and scores and staying informed about any potential errors, and members can contact our credit specialists to walk them through the dispute process with the bureaus. If you’re not a member, try a 7-day trial now.