Your credit report is an important part of your financial health. However, for it to be a reliable source of information to creditors it needs to be accurate. If you have found an error on your credit report, such as a trade line that isn’t yours or a debt that has long been paid off, then you will need to file a credit dispute to have the information corrected. Here are the things you need to know for filing a credit dispute.
What information can you dispute on a credit report?
There is a lot of information about you on your credit report and you can dispute just about all of it if it’s incorrect. You can request your personal information, such as name, birth date, social security number, or address, be corrected using a credit dispute. You will definitely want to file a dispute for any inaccurate or incomplete account information. This can includes things like balances that have been paid off and are still showing up on your report or accounts that don’t belong to you all together.
If you have accounts appearing on your credit report that don’t belong to you this could be a sign of identity theft. However, sometimes is can be a case of mixed credit files which can occur if you have the same or similar name as someone in your family, especially if you live at the same address.
If your reason for the credit dispute is because you are a victim of identity theft there are additional steps you will want to take, like possibly freezing your credit report. You can also review our complete guide for what to do about identity theft right here.
How to file a credit dispute:
To formally file a credit dispute with a credit bureau you will need to submit a formal dispute letter. This can be done by certified mail or online. Below are links to each of the online credit dispute pages for the three major credit bureaus.
When you submit your credit dispute you will need to include the following details:
- A copy of your credit report with the items in question circled or highlighted
- Name of the creditor the inaccuracies is coming from, such as lender or court
- Identify the type of the item, such as an account or judgement
- Describe in detail what is inaccurate or incomplete
- Indicate whether you would like the item in question to be removed or changed
- Provide any supporting documents to prove your dispute
You should also reach out directly to the financial institution listed as the creditor on your credit report for the specific reporting error as well. They may simply need to update their records to clear up the error. However, if you have a complex case due to identity theft it may be in your best interest to hire a consumer attorney or reputable credit counselor to help you navigate the dispute process.
How long does it take for a credit dispute to be resolved?
Regardless of the reason for your credit dispute according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act the credit bureaus have thirty (30) days to complete their investigation into your dispute and remove any errors. However, resolution of credit disputes are often achieved much sooner than thirty days, in most case disputes can be corrected within one week.
It is important to keep track of the information appearing on your credit report. If there is incorrect information listed it has the potential to lower your credit score. Incorrect information on your credit report is also a key indicator for identity theft. If you do find errors on your credit report it is important to file a credit dispute right away and have the incorrect information removed.