How To Dispute Credit Report Errors

Over 80% of credit reports have errors on them, errors which could be lowering your credit score and keeping you from getting credit or paying more for it than you should. Here’s how to fix them:

1. Check out all three of your credit reports for free at annualcreditreport.com
2. Look over all reports for any derogatory errors.
3. Contact the credit bureau and dispute them. This can be done online and/or in writing.
4. Contact the creditor/company furnishing the negative item to the credit bureaus. Request in writing to investigate the dispute and share its information with the bureau.
5. By federal law, if you request the company to investigate and you provide them with your correct contact information and account number, they MUST investigate. Ask to be cc’d on everything they send to the bureau.

Remember to send all letters by certified mail and request a receipt so no one can say that your letter got lost in the mail.

80% of credit reports have errors; How to dispute credit report errors [AJC]

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  1. Big Mama Pain says:

    Hm! I disputed a claim through each bureau’s website, and they did the investigation. I never even had to contact the company. Although, this wasn’t an outright error, it was a company who was trying to resurrect old zombie debt and had reported it to the bureaus as new debt (so….fraud, I guess?)

    • msbask says:

      And did they remove it from all three credit reports?

      I’m curious about this because I have an old debt whose statute of limitations (for lack of a better phrase) has run out. Just wondering why it’s still shown on my credit report.

      • Beeker26 says:

        Contact the credit bureau and they will remove it.

      • FDCPAGuy says:

        If it’s 7 yrs from the Date of Last Activity and it needs to be removed it’s called obsolete data by the bureaus. So when you dispute explain that the date of last activity of the account was > 7 yrs ago, that the tradeline is obsolete data and that it needs to be removed. The statute of limitations has to do with having an automatic defense in court (it doesn’t mean they cannot attempt to sue).

  2. Daverson says:

    +1 for the Ace Attorney references in the illustration.

  3. uber_mensch says:

    Dispute every negative report. You will be surprised at how many may not respond and the derogatory mark will disappear.

  4. Osi says:

    I do this every single year. Yes, by law the company have to investigate, but they do NOT have to correct anything. And in my case, THEY DO NOT CORRECT THEIR MISTAKES. AKA, they have other people’s names on my credit report as “AKA (name here)”.

    They have addresses I have never heard of. Same with phone numbers. I mean WTF? Federal law is worthless unless the companies and credit agencies are required to correct bogus information …

  5. smo0 says:

    Every year I go in and dispute everything negative… sometimes I get a few things dropped off – but it’s usually duplicates.

  6. NarcolepticGirl says:

    There is a load of information and sample letters in the forums at myfico.com.

    Usually I contact the collection agency/creditor instead of disputing it with the CRAs first.

  7. lalaland13 says:

    I’m doing this now with Transunion. Haven’t gone directly to each company yet, but I may still, if I have to. My mom filed bankruptcy seven years ago and a lot of her stuff is getting mixed up with mine. At Transunion, when you dispute you can cite a reason like “This is not my account, it belongs to a relative,” and I did a lot of that, as well as “I am not aware of this account.” I mean, if people were suing me for debt, I think I might have known by now. There were so many errors it was ridiculous. For years I was getting calls from people thinking I owe them money, when no, it was my mom. I even filed a harassment report with the police once. I doubt it did much good, but it made me feel better.

    One account listed was a credit card opened in 1997. When I was in junior high. Yeah, that’ snot me.

    It’s ridiculous how careless these companies are with this information. And the burden is all on you to prove it’s wrong. I guess I’m going to have to go to the other two credit reporting places too, huh? Shit.

    • FDCPAGuy says:

      It’s possible you have a mixed file at Transunion if you see a ton of the Bankruptcy stuff on your report. If the bankruptcy itself is on there I’d suggest you pull your mothers discharge of debtor on PACER (google it) and supply that to Transunion along with proof of ID/SSN. This should show them that the bankruptcy isn’t yours and help them realize they need to standardize your file (remove name and SSN variations from their dataset).

  8. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Also, it’s untrue that disputing something on your CR will extend the dates for statue of limitations and therefore extending it another 4/5/7 years. The date you were first delinquent will always be the date they use.

    • Osi says:

      Interesting … Case and point, I had a car repossessed due to losing my job (terrible place to be), this was in 2002. The car did get paid off later that year and the account was closed.

      After learning about the free credit reports, about 3 years later, I pulled my report and it listed that the account was charged off / write off. This wasnt true as it was paid in full. Therefore, I disputed it. The company got a brain and fixed the status, and … extended the date ….

      What did the bureau do? Well, they claim they can’t do a thing about it.

      Yeah … what is this federal law for ?

      • DrLumen says:

        What they are doing is in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You may have to send them proof of when it was paid but they should correct the date. If they don’t change it threaten to sue them per the FCRA for post-dating a debt.

        I know it sucks to have to prove innocence. Like has been said here and in other places, paying an old debt (charge-off) does not help your credit report. However, sometimes you can negotiate with the debt holder to ‘pay for delete’ which means they will remove the negative report if you pay them off. This would have been best for your situation. Debt collectors always have the highest moral standards. :p

  9. skapig says:

    Recently went through all the reports to clean them up. There were some interesting takes on my name and addresses that needed updating. Plus some of them let you include your employer which had changed.

    The dispute process for all of them over the Web was actually quite easy. Of course it took some considerable effort to get Equifax to actually create a file for me since they had nothing on me (I’m a young one and there was probably some incorrect reporting happening too). They managed to lose my first submission of all the sensitive personal documents and later refused to give me a working fax number.

    Go through the websites if you can. You get a nice, clear electronic trail.

  10. Naame says:

    For those interested in taking action like this and would like to write some letters you can find very good templates here:

    Reinvestigation Request to Credit Bureau:
    http://gotchacapitalism.com/samples/SAMPLE%20REINVESTIGATION%20LETTER%20TO%20A%20CREDIT%20BUREAU.doc

    Reinvestigation Request to Furnisher
    http://gotchacapitalism.com/samples/SAMPLE%20REINVESTIGATION%20LETTER%20TO%20A%20FURNISHER.doc

    All you have to do is erase the example data and start adding info from your credit report for each line item that you wish to dispute.

  11. peebozi says:

    the market will work itself out with this one. nothing to see here.

  12. Dopaz says:

    80% of all statistics are just made up.

  13. sonneillon says:

    I gotta dispute a claim that they settled a debt but it was paid in full. I am just sooo lazy.

  14. AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

    I have to wonder about the credit bureaus sometimes. I had to dispute an item once on my Experian report – – a credit card that was opened in 1980. I was born in 1981. Clearly not mine. Yet Experian still came back and asked me for additional supporting documentation . . .

  15. FDCPAGuy says:

    It should be noted: DO NOT dispute anything prior to applying for a mortgage right now. FNMA has cracked down and if you have a disputed tradeline on your credit report it becomes very difficult to close your home loan.

  16. pot_roast says:

    All the creditors do is click “Yeah, we verified” on EX/EQ/TU’s web form and call it done. They don’t bother sending back verification most of the time. Sometimes the only recourse is to sue the creditor and let them answer to a judge.

    Too many shady junk debt buyers. If there’s one industry that needs to be wiped from the face of the earth, it’s this one. Credit reporting/FICO is such a ridiculous scam. Too bad it’s become so important to so many… Just remember. you are not your FICO score. We’re now dealing with a situation where my wife’s FICO score dropped 60 points (and has now screwed us out of a refinance since it dropped it below 620) thanks to a junk debt buyer that is trying to resurrect a bogus Verizon Wireless bill. There is no verification because there’s no debt, but this zombie ‘debt’ keeps popping up. We send off debt verification letters and the credit simply ignores them and reports it as verified to the bureaus, who also do nothing. Eventually we’re able to get it removed but the FICO score damage has already been done.

  17. topher b says:

    I’ll tell you one thing. I am NOT happy with this Experian credit monitoring service. It ends up being freecreditreport.com, which they do not tell you. I was on hold for 20 minutes — it’s the only way to get them to stop charging my account $15 a month for basically nothing. Then the guy tells me my disputed items might “change.” SLEAZY. These people need to be investigated by the attorney general’s office.