How to Easily Dispute Credit Report Errors – Forbes Advisor


Editorial Note: We earn a commission on partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.

Whether your goal is to establish your credit for the first time or to maintain your current credit rating, it’s always a good idea to check your credit reports for errors. Credit report errors can cause serious damage to your credit score. If your score drops because of an error, you may have a harder time qualifying for a mortgage, personal loan, or car loan.

For this reason, it is crucial that you immediately dispute credit report errors. Below, Forbes Advisor will tell you how to check your reports for errors and the steps you can take to dispute them.

Increase your FICO® score instantly with Experian Boost™

Experian can help you increase your FICO® score based on paying bills like your phone, utilities, and popular streaming services. Results may vary. See website for more details.

1. Check your credit reports for errors

Your credit reports are based on information provided by companies to the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Transunion. To identify credit reports that contain errors, you must review each report separately. You can do this by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Due to Covid-19, you can view your three reports free of charge each week until April 20, 2022.

Common Credit Report Mistakes

When reviewing your reports, some common errors regarding personal information and account reports include:

  • Personal Information Reporting Errors. Check if your name, address, date of birth and social security number (SSN) are correct. If your report contains inaccurate personal information, it could be a sign that your identity has been stolen.
  • Accounts that don’t belong to you. It’s possible that someone with a similar name accidentally listed an account in one of your reports. It could also mean that someone has impersonated you and opened an account in your name.
  • Incorrect account status. When reviewing your reports, make sure your account balance, account numbers, and credit limits are accurate. Also check that closed accounts are not marked as open.
  • Matured debt. Negative remarks, such as collection accounts and late payments, typically stay on your credit reports for up to seven years. In most cases, negative information automatically disappears from your credit report. If not, it could mean that the debt clock has been reset, which may be an error.
  • Reinsertion of incorrect information. Incorrect information that has been disputed and deleted from your credit file in the past can sometimes reappear. This means that you will have to dispute the incorrect information again with the credit bureaus or the creditor providing the information to have it deleted again.

2. Gather materials and documents to dispute errors

Before submitting your dispute, you should gather personal information and documents that the credit bureau or creditor may need to investigate your claim.

When you open a dispute, you may be asked for the following personal information:

  • A copy of your driver’s license or government-issued ID
  • SSN
  • Date of Birth
  • Bank statements
  • Your current address and your addresses for the last two years

In addition, the following documents may be requested from you to support your dispute:

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) identity theft report or police report if an account was added as a result of identity theft
  • Billing statements
  • Canceled check or money order stub showing an invoice has been paid

3. Dispute credit report errors with a credit bureau

You should dispute credit report errors with each credit bureau that lists them on your credit report by submitting a claim online, by mail, or by phone. Below you will find a link to each office’s online dispute page, mailing address and phone number.

How to Dispute Experian Credit Report Errors

  • On line: Experian Online Dispute Portal
  • Mail: Send a dispute letter to Experian, PO Box 4500, Allen, Tx 75013
  • Call: 888-397-3742 or the phone number listed on your report

How to Dispute Equifax Credit Report Errors

  • On line: Equifax Online Dispute Page
  • Mail: Send a letter of dispute to Equifax Information Services, LLC, PO Box 740256, Atlanta 30374
  • Call: 886-349-5191

How to Dispute TransUnion Credit Report Errors

4. Consider contacting a data provider

When disputing credit report errors, the FTC also recommends sending a dispute letter to the data provider. A data provider is a financial institution, such as a lender or credit card issuer, that provides data to credit bureaus. Each credit report that includes the error must show the name and address of the provider. If you don’t see an address listed, contact the company.

Once you submit your dispute to the provider, the provider has 30 days to investigate. If it finds that the information you dispute is inaccurate, it is required to notify each credit bureau that it reported the information. However, if the information turns out to be correct, it will remain on your credit file.

5. Wait up to 45 days for results

Once you dispute credit report errors with a credit bureau, they usually have 30 days to investigate your claim. He must inform you of the results five days after completing the investigation. However, it can take up to 45 days in the following circumstances:

  • You submitted a dispute after receiving a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com
  • During the 30-day investigation window, you submit new materials and documents

6. Review the results

Once the credit bureau has completed its investigation, it is required to send you the results in writing. When you receive the results, review them to see if you won your case. If the results result in a change (deleting or updating incorrect information), they must also provide you with an updated copy of your credit report.

However, if you disagree with the results of the dispute, you can always resubmit a dispute with additional documentation to support your case. Additionally, you can request that a statement of your dispute be included in future credit reports.

7. Check your credit reports for updates

Updating your credit reports may take some time. Creditors can take up to 45 days to send new information to a credit bureau, according to TransUnion. If the information is not updated after 45 days, contact the credit bureaus or data provider again to find out why inaccurate information is still being reported.

Conclusion

Review your credit reports at least once a year for errors. If you find an error listed on your credit report, follow the steps mentioned above to dispute it directly with the credit bureau or creditor who provided the information. Although the credit dispute process can take a long time, removing negative items from your credit reports can increase your score.

Increase your FICO® score instantly with Experian Boost™

Experian can help you increase your FICO® score based on paying bills like your phone, utilities, and popular streaming services. Results may vary. See website for more details.

Previous 3 reasons to check your credit report regularly
Next Five benefits of modernizing your credit risk management process - techbuzzireland