Credit report errors are annoying and very common. After you deal with your debt issues, it can be very frustrating to have your credit report not accurately reflect your creditworthiness.
Once you start to really look at your credit report, you may be surprised to find the credit report errors sometimes are related to your personal information or debts of someone else entirely.
Alarmed clients often call me to deal with their credit report errors, but this is not a legal matter. Here are the steps to dealing with credit report errors:
Step 1. Look at your free credit reports
Annually, you can access a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major reporting bureaus. Get each report. Compare the reports to see if they all have the same information.
If you find an error circle clearly and contact that credit bureau
Make a copy of your credit report and highlight the error you are disputing.
If an error only appears on one credit bureau’s report, you only need to contact that particular bureau (not all three).
Step 2. Dispute the Error
Write a letter to the relevant credit bureau who is reporting the error. Include documents that you think are helpful, such as the credit report copy with the error circled or statements from the creditor/account where the error is being reported. Visit credit bureau site to see if there is a form available that helps you to dispute the error.
Make sure to keep a copy for your records!
Step 3. Mail your dispute
Send the dispute information via certified mail, return receipt requested. Send a copy to both the credit bureau and the credit issuer at the same time.
You may also want to send a copy of the dispute to the original creditor as well. You may want to send the letters with tracking, so you can confirm when and if it is received.
Include in your envelope:
- Copy of the dispute letter
- Copy of your credit report with the error highlighted or circled
- Copies of any supporting documentation
Step 5. Wait for a response
The credit bureau will look into it, but it may take about 30 days for them to take any action.
What happens if your dispute isn’t fixed?
If the problem is not fixed, try again a second time. May be this time you threaten a Consumer Finance Protection Bureau complaint.
If you need to submit your credit report for a time sensitive loan application, you may want to provide the dispute paperwork with your application, so the lender can see that there is a dispute pending.