How to Dispute Errors in Your Credit Report

So you followed my advice and requested a copy of your credit report.  You were surprised to find things that didn’t belong there. You’re not alone.  Last year 60 Minutes reported that as many as 40 million Americans have at least one error on their credit report.  Here is a link to a list of the most common credit reporting errors.  While there is little argument that credit bureaus and information furnishers should be doing more, for now it’s up to you to ensure the accuracy of your information.  This post explains the steps to take to dispute errors on your credit report and have them deleted from your history for good.

First, a brief explanation of where your report comes from.  There are essentially three main players.


As you make purchases, apply for credit and pay your rent you are leaving behind a trail of financial information.

Information Furnishers

The various financial institutions, creditors, landlords or collectors turn all this information over to the major credit reporting companies.

Credit Reporting Companies 

The 3 major bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, collect and compile your credit information which they then sell to interested parties.

Errors in your report may be the result of inaccurate information provided by a furnisher, a mix-up by a credit reporting company or both.  Regardless, you’ll need to light a fire under both parties if you want to get results.

Contact the Credit Reporting Company.

  1. Write a letter describing the information you believe is inaccurate.  Clearly and concisely explain why the information is incorrect and why it should be removed.  Sample Dispute Letter – Credit Bureau
  2. Attach copies of any documents that support your position.  For example, if you are disputing an account opened by someone who stole your identity, include copies of a police report, your fraud claim and any other communications you had with the credit card company.
  3. Include a copy of your credit report with the disputed information highlighted.
  4. Send your letter and attachments to each credit bureau reporting the error by certified mail “return receipt requested” so you’ll know when the letter was received.
  5. Retain a copy of the letter and all the original documentation for your records.

Unless the credit reporting companies determine the dispute is frivolous, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that they open an investigation.  This should take place within 30 days.  As part of the investigation, they are required to turn over all relevant information to the company that provided the original information.  The furnisher is then obligated to conduct their own investigation and report its findings to the credit reporting company.

Once the investigation is complete, the credit reporting agency must provide you with a written report of its findings and ultimate determination.  If the dispute results in a change to your report, they should provide you with a free copy of your credit report showing the change.  You can also request that notice of the corrections be sent to anyone who received your report in the last 6 months.

If the investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be added to your file and in future reports. You can also ask the credit reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past.

Contact the Furnisher of the Disputed Information.

Just as you did with the credit bureaus, you’ll need to contact the company or organization that provided the erroneous information, in writing. Include all the same information and documentation you included in your other letter.  Sample Dispute Letter – Furnisher.

Information furnishers are required to notify the credit bureaus that your information has been disputed. If the furnisher determines the disputed information was inaccurate, it must notify all three credit reporting agencies so the information can be corrected.  If they continue to report the information, they still must notify the reporting company that the information has been disputed.

I Sent Dispute Letters to the Credit Bureaus and the Information Furnisher, but Nothing Happened.

If it has been over 30 days since you mailed your letters and you have yet to hear anything, contact the parties by telephone to check on the status of your dispute.   If no progress has been made after 45 days, send another dispute letter.  This time include a list all the attempts you have made to correct the error.  As with the previous letter, attach copies of all relevant documents.  Remember to send everything certified mail “return receipt requested.”

I realize this is very redundant and inconvenient.  Unfortunately, it is unlikely anything will happen unless you are persistent.

If the matter hasn’t been resolved within 60 days, or if the disputed item has not been removed from your credit report contact an attorney to discuss possible legal recourse; including claims under the FCRA. The FCRA has a short two-year statute of limitations, so it is important that you regularly monitor your credit and act quickly once you notice an error.

The key is persistence.  You’ve worked too hard to build good credit.  Don’t let it be destroyed by careless reporting.

Helpful Credit Report Links




Common Credit Reporting Errors

A Summary of Your Rights Under the FCRA

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