Even though financial institutions and other businesses consider your credit report to be an accurate representation of your financial history, credit bureaus aren’t perfect. Errors and inaccuracies, such as incorrect addresses, debts which you’ve already paid off and even accounts that don’t belong to you can show up in your report, and your credit score may suffer as a result.
While you can’t prevent errors and inaccuracies from appearing, you can catch them by getting a free credit report from each major credit bureau at least once a year and examining it for mistakes. If you find any, you’ll need to file a credit dispute to remove the error from your report.
How to File a Credit Dispute
To formally file a credit dispute with a credit bureau, your first step is to get your information in order. You’ll need to have following:
- A copy of your credit report with the items in question circled or highlighted
- The name of the creditor the inaccuracies are coming from, such as the lender or court
- The type of item you’re disputing, such as an account or judgement
- A detailed description of what is inaccurate or incomplete
- An indication of whether you would like the item in question to be removed or changed
You’ll also need to provide documentation that proves your claim, such as copies of:
- Bank statements
- Birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses or divorce decrees
- Credit card statements
- Loan documents
- An FTC complaint or police report
Once you have all the information you require, you’ll need to contact the credit bureau who made the error, sometimes you may have to contact more than one if the error is on multiple credit reports.
To contact TransUnion for a credit dispute or error:
- Call 800-916-8800 and make sure you have your TransUnion credit report available so you can give the file number to the representative who answers.
- Visit the TransUnion Credit Dispute Webpage
To contact Equifax for a credit dispute or error:
- Call 866-349-5191 in order to speak to a representative
- Visit the Equifax Credit Dispute Webpage
To contact Experian for a credit dispute or error:
- Call 866-200-6020 to speak to a representative
- Visit the Experian Credit Dispute Webpage
Please keep in mind that if you have a complex case due to identity theft you might want to hire a consumer attorney or other reputable credit counselor to help you navigate the dispute process.
What Happens After Filing a Dispute
Once you file a credit dispute, the credit bureau needs time to investigate and inform you of the outcome in writing. This will usually take at least 30 days to complete.
While the credit bureaus are investigating your dispute, you should also reach out to the financial institution or business who provided the erroneous data to the credit bureau. It may simply be the case that they need to update their records to clear up the error.
If the credit bureau agrees with you, they’ll remove the erroneous information and send you a new copy of your credit report. You’ll want to look over the new credit report to make sure it’s accurate.
If the credit union disagrees, however, your next move should be to review the information to make sure it’s correct. If it is, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and talk to a representative about your problem, making sure to explain what you’re disputing and sending them copies with your proof.
Build Up Your Credit Score With First Alliance Credit Union
Disputing an error on your credit report can take a bit of effort, but the potential boost to a poor credit score could be well worth the time you spend. Just make sure you have all the information at hand to prove your point first.
Becoming a member of First Alliance Credit Union is another way you can help maintain a good credit score. You can monitor your score using the free credit score tool on our online banking platform and mobile app, which you can also use the free app to set up automatic payments to ensure you never miss a bill payment again.