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Dispute Credit Report Errors

November 15, 2012

We often hear how important it is to check your credit reports each year, but then what?  What should you do if you find an error(s)?

First, tell the credit bureau in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. The credit reporting agency must investigate the item(s) in question – usually within 30 days – unless they consider your dispute frivolous. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Your letter should:

  • Provide your complete name and address;
  • Clearly identify each disputed item in the report;
  • State the facts and explain why you dispute the information;
  • Be specific about the change you are requesting: perhaps the item should be deleted, or specify how it should  be corrected; 
  • You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled.

Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document that the credit reporting agency received your correspondence. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

Second, write to the appropriate creditor or other information provider, explaining that you are disputing the information provided to the credit reporting agency.

Again, include copies of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider again reports the same information to a credit reporting agency, it must include a notice of your dispute. Request that the provider copy you on correspondence they send to the credit reporting agency. Expect this process to take between 30 and 90 days.

In many states, you will be eligible to receive an extra free credit report directly from the credit reporting agency once a dispute has been registered, in order to verify the updated information. Contact the appropriate credit reporting agency to request this.


Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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