Errors on consumer credit reports can be a common occurrence. That
makes knowing how to dispute a mistake on your credit report
important. If you find something in your credit report that doesn’t
belong there, here’s what to do.
Step 1 Identify any credit report errors
Review your credit reports periodically for inaccurate or
incomplete information. You can get one free credit report from
each of the three major credit bureausEquifax, Experian, and
TransUniononce a year at annualcreditreport.com. You can also
subscribe, usually at a cost, to a credit monitoring service and
review your report monthly.
Some common credit report errors you might spot include:
- Identity mistakes such as an incorrect name, phone number or
- A so-called mixed file that contains account information belonging
to another consumer. This may occur when you and another consumer
have the same or similar names.
- An account incorrectly attributed to you due to identity theft.
- A closed account that’s still being reported as open.
- An incorrect reporting of you as an account owner, when you are
just an authorized user on an account.
- A remedied delinquency such as a collections account that you paid
off yet still shows as unpaid.
- An account that’s incorrectly labelled as late or delinquent, which
could include outdated information such as a late payment that’s
over 7 years old or an incorrect date regarding your last payment.
- The same debt listed more than once.
- An account listed more than once with different creditors.
- Incorrect account balances.
- Inaccurate credit limits.
How an error on your credit report can affect you
Is it really necessary to keep close tabs on your credit report?
Can one error really have an impact on you? Yes. Your credit report
contains all kinds of information about you, such as how you pay
your bills, and if you’ve ever filed for bankruptcy. You could be
impacted negatively by an error on your credit report in many ways.
To start, it’s important to understand that credit reporting
companies sell the information in your credit reports to groups
that include employers, insurers, utility companies, and many other
groups that want to use that information to verify your identity
and evaluate your creditworthiness.
For instance, if a utility company reviews your credit history and
finds a less-than-favorable credit report, they may offer less
favorable terms to you as a customer. While this is called
risk-based pricing and companies must notify you if they’re doing
this, it can still have an impact on you. Your credit report also
may affect whether you can get a loan and the terms of that loan,
including your interest rate.
Step 2Contact the furnisher
Your next step is to contact the furnisher, or the company that
provided the erroneous information, which could be an entity like
your bank or a utility company. Verify their records and confirm
the error. You may be able to resolve the issue at this point. If
the issue can’t be resolved, contact the credit reporting bureau
Step 3 Dispute Your Credit Report’s Errors
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting
bureau and the company that reports the information about you to
the credit bureau are required to accept disputes from consumersand
correct any inaccurate or incomplete information about you in that
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends taking these
- Tell the credit bureau, in writing, what information you think is
inaccurate. The Federal Trade Commission provides a sample dispute
letter that makes this step easier. The letter outlines what
information to include, from presenting the facts to requesting
that the error be removed or corrected.
- Include copies, not originals, of materials that support your
- Consider enclosing a copy of your credit report with the errors
circled or highlighted.
- Send your letter by certified mail with return receipt requestedto
ensure the letter is delivered. Keep your post office receipt.
- Keep copies of everything you send.
Where to send your dispute letter
Send your credit report dispute letter to the credit reporting
bureau, as well as to the company that reported the inaccurate
information about you.
Step 4 Allow time for the investigation
Credit reporting bureaus must investigate the disputed items. The