Getting errors wiped from your credit report is crucial to repair your credit. Mistakes, omissions, wrong names, identity theft, and typos are like anchors causing your credit score to sink. These pesky errors can cost you dearly. Getting slapped with high-interest rates on a new credit card, high insurance, or—worse still—getting refused a loan or mortgage can shatter your hopes.
So, imagine having to pay for someone else’s mistake. We’re not just talking about a couple of bucks at the grocery store. Errors on your credit report can end up costing you thousands of dollars if you need credit. Get the blunders sorted, and you will see your credit score shoot up to what it should be.
You are probably thinking “great, but how can I dispute a credit report and win?”
This article shows you step-by-step how to file a credit report dispute and win your case. The best part? If you know the right steps to take, fixing your credit score is easy and free.
Why Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
The simple fact is that mistakes happen and they can happen on your credit report. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that one in four consumers have errors on their credit report that affects their credit scores. Filing a dispute resulted in 80 percent of people winning their case, and getting their credit report changed.
The FTC advises disputing errors to keep your financial history intact. Credits scores can affect your chances of getting a loan, renting an apartment, buying insurance, or even applying for a job. The blunder could be as simple as a small error or as severe as being a victim of identity theft. In any case, if you think that your credit report is wrong, dispute it immediately.
What are the common errors that can impact your credit score? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) lists some of the following:
- Mistakes with your name or address
- Accounts mistakenly reported as delinquent or late
- The same debt is listed multiple times under different names
- Accounts with incorrect balances or credit limits
- Fraudulent account when you are the victim of identity theft
How to Dispute a Credit Report and Win
So, the big question is: how can you dispute a faulty credit report and win?
There are five steps to sorting out your credit history to help improve your credit score.
1. Get a free credit report
The first step is to get a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to get a free annual credit report from the three credit reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You need a report from all three as they have different methods of reporting your credit history.
All you have to do is visit the annualcreditreport.com website to request your free yearly credit report.
There is also another reason when you can get a credit report for free—if you get the shocking news that you’ve been refused a loan, insurance, or employment due to a low credit score. In this case, you can request a free report to see why your loan application was turned down.
2. Gather your evidence
Step two: gather all the evidence before you dispute a credit report. So, get bank statements, receipts, loan documents, or police reports about an identity theft complaint. Getting the proper records is the only way to show you have a valid claim and win your case.
Remember: always send copies and never send originals of your documents. So, scan or photocopy all your necessary documents. The last thing you need is for relevant documents to go missing.
Another piece of helpful advice is to send a copy of your report highlighting the errors. If you don’t have the right documents, the credit reporting bureau may just dismiss your dispute as “frivolous.”
3. Contact the credit bureau
So, with all your documents together and your copies ready, you can start step three of disputing your credit report—contact the credit bureau. There are three options to reach Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion:
- by telephone
- by mail
Depending on the credit report, you may only need to contact one company, or you may need to contact all three.
Here are the links to file a dispute online:
You will probably find that filing a dispute online is easier and more streamlined than by phone or mail. If you decide to mail your documents, the FTC advises sending your information by certified mail with “return receipt requested.”
When you start a “paper trail,” keep a record—email or letters—of all communication. Remember that having the right documents is the only way to win a credit report dispute.
4. Contact the lender
If the dispute on your credit report involves more than just a wrong name and address, you should also contact the lender. This could be your bank, credit card issuer, or loan company. You can easily find their contact information on your credit report.
Your letter should include your name, address, and exact details of your dispute. Include all the relevant information—account numbers, file numbers, or item references—in your letter. Clearly state why their information is wrong and provide copies of your supporting documents.
If you have contacted both the credit bureau and the furnisher (a technical name for the lender), you have the option of suing the lender if you can’t resolve the dispute.
5. Follow up after 45 days
The credit bureau must investigate your claims within 30 days. After that, they have to reply to you within five days. So, if you’ve not heard back from them after 45 days, it’s time to find out what’s happening.
In most cases, you will win your dispute with the credit bureau if you back up your claims with solid evidence. The furnisher should also tell the credit bureaus to update the credit report. The credit reporting company must send you the results of their investigation. You will receive a new credit report for free if it has been changed.
What should you do if the furnisher insists that their information is correct? If they are “sticking by their guns” and refuse to budge, you can request that the dispute is included in your report. You can also contact the CFPB to file a complaint.
Errors on Your Credit Report: Dispute and Win
You have the right to dispute any item on your credit report that is incorrect. You need to collect documents to support your claim and then file a dispute with the credit reporting company. If you follow the steps in this article, you have every chance of winning your credit report dispute.