How to Dispute Credit Report Errors
Credit report errors primarily involve negative items on your credit report that are “inaccurate, incomplete, or cannot be verified”.
When you find items that are inaccurate, incomplete, or cannot be verified you should dispute them. You dispute items on your credit report by writing a letter to the credit reporting agency that asks them to investigate the disputed item. You should send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested” to verify that they received the letter and the date that the letter was received.
You should include a copy of your credit report with the disputed item circled. Also include copies of any supporting documentation that would support your argument. Remember to send copies, not originals, of any document.
Your letter can look similar to the following:
The credit reporting agency has 30 days beginning when they receive your letter to investigate the item unless they consider your request frivolous.
If they cannot verify the accuracy of the item they must remove it from your credit report.
The agency must provide you with written notice of the results of their investigation within 5 days after their investigation is complete.
If you are not satisfied with the results of their investigation you can add a brief (100 words or less) note to your file describing your reason for disputing the negative item.
In general, your credit report has four components:
- Identifying information, such as your name, Social Security number, current and previous addresses, telephone number, birth date, and employer. This information helps ensure that your credit report is accurate and doesn’t mistakenly include details about another person (perhaps someone with the same name).
- Public record information, generally gathered from local courthouses, including bankruptcy records, foreclosures, tax liens, court-ordered payments, and late child-support payments. This information is used to determine if you have previous defaults or legal judgments against you. For example, a mortgage lender will want to know if you’ve had a past foreclosure before granting a home loan. Derogatory information can generally remain on your credit report for up to seven years, except for bankruptcy information, which may be reported for 10 years.
- Other credit history information, such as a list of your credit cards and loans, and whether payments were on time. Here, too, negative information about your credit relationships, such as late payments or defaults, will remain on your report for up to seven years, and bankruptcy information may appear on your report for 10 years.
- “Inquiries,” a section of your report that lists the creditors, insurance companies or other parties that have requested your credit report, usually when considering an application you submitted. Inquiries typically can remain on your credit report for two years