Fixing Errors on Your Credit Report

You’re being a responsible adult by keeping tabs on your credit score when suddenly you realize that your score has gone down! Through a little digging, you realize there is an error. Don’t worry: It happens to the best of us. Sometimes it’s a bill that mistakenly goes to collections; other times it’s a case of mistaken identity, where someone with the same name and horrible credit habits gets mixed up with you and your good credit habits.

It’s easy to address errors on your credit report. First, order your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can get a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus once a year.

If you find an error, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau. The best way to file a dispute is via their individual websites. To ensure the mistake gets corrected as quickly as possible, you should attack the error from both sides—go through the bureau and through the organization that provided the information to the bureau (you’ll be able to obtain this information with your credit report). According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus and organizations reporting are responsible for correcting inaccurate information.

If you find an error in your address, you should first contact your creditors and confirm that your personal information is correct in their records. Once they report again to the bureau, this information will be corrected.

When you contact the credit bureau, the investigation is usually done within 30 days. Create an airtight report with any copies of documents that support your claim and provide a detailed explanation of what information is incorrect.

Your dispute should include the following:

–       Complete name and address.

–       A clearly identified list of what you are disputing.

–       An explanation of why you are disputing the information.

–       A request for a correction or deletion.

To the creditor or organization that reported the wrong information, you should also provide a detailed explanation of what you are disputing and why. This process may take a bit longer than with the credit bureau, usually between 30 and 90 days. They must provide the bureau a notice of your dispute, and you can request that the creditor copy you on any correspondence they send to the bureau.

Once a dispute has been registered, many states allow you to request another free credit report from the bureau to verify the resolved dispute.

In a worst case scenario, neither the creditor nor the bureau will accept that the disputed information is wrong, which means the information will stay on your report. If this happens, you can request a permanent narrative on your report noting that you dispute the item. When you apply for a loan of any kind, you’ll want to submit a letter explaining the dispute so they can take that in to account when determining the terms of your loan.

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