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How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

Building and maintaining good credit can make a difference when applying for an auto loan, mortgage, or credit card. You should regularly check your credit reports to ensure they are accurate, even if you have an established, strong credit history. Credit report errors are much more common than many people realize, and they can have a negative impact on your financial life.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conducted a study where 20 percent of participants discovered and disputed credit report errors. Five percent of those had errors that would have impacted their ability to gain credit approval or favorable terms.

Here's how to identify mistakes and dispute errors on your credit report.

Make Use of Free Credit Reports

credit report microscope

All U.S. residents have a right to obtain one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus once every 12 months. The three agencies – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion – established to comply with the government's mandate to provide one yearly free credit when requested.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides resources and advises that it is important to review copies of your reports from each agency because errors might appear only on a single report or on all three.

Once you get a copy of your reports from each agency, review each one carefully to check for errors and confirm the accuracy of the information.

Check for the following common errors:

Errors in Personal Information

Review your personal information as it is listed in each report for the following common errors:

  • Incorrect name, misspelled name, or former name instead of current one
  • Wrong address or phone number
  • Inclusion of accounts for someone else with a similar name
  • Inclusion of accounts that appear as a result of identity theft that you never opened

Account Status Errors

  • Incorrect reports of delinquent payments
  • Showing a closed account as still open
  • Wrong report of when an account was opened
  • Incorrect information about the date you were first delinquent
  • Wrong date of your last payment
  • Duplicate debt listings

Account Balance Errors

  • Incorrect balances
  • Wrong credit limit

Data Entry Errors

  • Relisting of incorrect data after it has been corrected
  • Reporting the same debt multiple times with different creditor names

Print out each of the reports. As you review each one, highlight any errors you discover. This will help you when you submit a dispute for the mistakes you find. Gather your most recent account statements and bills to double-check balance information. Check any reported delinquencies against your payment records.

Disputing Errors on Your Credit Report

To dispute the information, you will need to gather documents to support your claims. You should submit disputes to both the credit reporting agency and the company that furnished the inaccurate information.

You can either submit a dispute by mail or online with the three agencies and include copies of supporting documents with your dispute.

Submitting a Dispute Online

If you want to submit an online dispute with the CRAs, you can do so through the following dispute links:

Upload your supporting documents to submit with your online dispute if you choose this method. Depending on the type of error, you might need some or more of the following supporting documents:

  • Driver's license copy
  • Social Security card copy
  • Birth certificate copy
  • Most recent bank account statement showing payment dates
  • The most recent statement from the creditor
  • Documentation from the creditor that a correction was made to your account
  • Copy of a police report showing that an account was the result of identity theft
  • Letter from the Department of Education showing your student loans have been canceled due to disability
  • Canceled checks

Note the date that you submitted your dispute. Print out a copy of your dispute and supporting documents and save them in a file. Once the consumer reporting agency receives your dispute, it must investigate and either confirm or correct the inaccurate information within 30 days. It will notify you of what it found and the actions it took as a result. In addition to the credit reporting agencies, you should also submit a dispute with the lender that reported inaccurate information.

Mailing a Dispute Letter

If you choose, you can also submit a letter to dispute errors in your credit report. To do this, you will need to include the following information in your letter:

  • Full name, current address, and current telephone number
  • Confirmation number from your credit report
  • Each mistake identified
  • Reason why you are disputing the information
  • A request to remove or correct the information
  • Copy of your credit report with the disputed information highlighted

Both Equifax and TransUnion have dispute forms that you can download and send with your letter and supporting documents, but Experian does not. Be sure to include copies of your supporting documents with your letter.

Send your letters to:

P.O. Box 4500 Allen
Texas 75013

Equifax Information Services
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30348

TransUnion Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

If the agency confirms that an error was made during its 30-day investigatory period, it will remove or correct the information. You should review a new copy of your report to confirm the correction or removal was made.

Maintaining Accurate Credit Reports

Regularly checking your credit reports from each of the three agencies is important for catching mistakes and maintaining the accuracy of your information.

You can sign up for a credit monitoring service that will alert you whenever changes are made to your credit reports. Some people also choose to stagger their requests for their free credit reports and order one every four months. If you discover errors while reviewing your reports, dispute mistakes immediately to prevent them from hurting your credit rating.

To help consumers get control of their credit scores, La Capitol Federal Credit Union offers a variety of educational resources. Learn more by visiting our financial education resources site today.

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