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How to Dispute a Credit Report

Understand how credit report errors happen and correct them with a dispute letter

When a credit report contains errors, it is often because the report is incomplete or contains information about someone else. This typically happens because: 

  • Your credit report does not reflect all credit accounts.
  • The person applied for credit under different names (Robert Jones, Bob Jones, etc.).
  • Someone made a clerical error in reading or entering name or address information from a handwritten application.
  • The person gave an inaccurate Social Security number, or the number was misread by the lender.
  • Loan or credit card payments were inadvertently applied to the wrong account. 
     

If you feel your credit report contains errors, or is missing accounts, learn more about how to file a dispute on a credit report below.

Who to contact to dispute a credit report

To insure that the any mistakes gets corrected as quickly as possible, contact both the credit bureau and organization that provided the information to the bureau. Both these parties are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Craft your credit report dispute letter to the credit bureau

The first step in filing a credit dispute is to document, in writing, the information you believe to be inaccurate in your credit report. You can send your dispute letter using regular mail, or you can use the online dispute process offered by each credit bureau's website. The credit bureau must investigate the item(s) in question — usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous.

Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. You may also want to enclose a copy of your credit report with the items in question circled. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your credit report dispute letter should:

  • Clearly identify each item in your report you dispute.
  • State the facts and explain why you dispute the information.
  • Request deletion or correction.

If you send your dispute by regular mail, your letter may look something like this sample. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document that the credit bureau received your correspondence. Keep copies of your correspondence and any enclosures.

Write to inform the appropriate creditor or provider that you are disputing the information provided to the bureau

Often your credit report is incorrect because bureaus have been misinformed by creditors or creditors have not reported your information at all. To correct this, you should submit a dispute to the source. Even if the error is not corrected, the provider must then include a notice of your dispute if they report the same information to a bureau again.

If you've been told you were denied credit because of an "insufficient credit file" or "no credit file" and you have accounts with creditors that don't appear in your credit file, ask your creditors to begin reporting your credit information to credit bureaus. (Some gasoline card companies, local retailers, student loan lenders and credit unions are among this group of non-reporting creditors.) However, creditors are not required to report consumer credit information to credit bureaus, and if they don’t, you may wish to move your account to a different creditor who does report regularly to credit bureaus.

When writing to your creditor, include copies of documents that support your position. Request that the provider copy you on correspondence it sends to the bureau.  Your credit providers should specify an address for disputes and this process should take between 30 and 90 days.

How to confirm your credit dispute is resolved

In many states, you will be eligible to receive a free credit report directly from the credit bureau, once a dispute has been registered, in order to verify the updated information. Contact the appropriate credit bureau to see if you qualify for this service.

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The information provided by Fair Isaac Corporation is used with permission. Copyright © Fair Isaac Corporation. All rights reserved. Further use, reproduction, or distribution is governed by the Fair Isaac Copyright Usage Requirements, which, along with further information on credit, credit scoring, and related topics, can be found at www.myfico.com. Fair Isaac®, FICO®, myFICO®, and other marks are trademarks of Fair Isaac Corporation.