Fixing Credit Report Errors: What Can You Do About It?

Know who to contact
Fixing credit report errors requires knowing who to contact to resolve a variety of errors that may be found as you examine your report.
When a credit report contains errors, it is often because the report is incomplete, or contains information about someone else. This typically happens because the person applied for credit under different names (Robert Jones, Bob Jones, etc.); someone made a clerical error in reading or entering name or address information from a hand-written application; the person gave an inaccurate Social Security number, or the number was misread by the lender; or loan or credit card payments were inadvertently applied to the wrong account.

Accuracy falls on the consumer
Credit bureaus receive and report information on consumer’s credit histories and are not required to prove the accuracy of the information in their reports, unless the accuracy is challenged by the consumer. If the negative information in your report is correct but you have justifiable reasons for the negative entry, you may want to write, and have added to your report, a 100-word summary explanation of the event.

Contact the credit bureau and creditor
To ensure that the mistake is corrected as quickly as possible, contact both the credit bureau and organization that provided the information to the bureau. Each of these parties is responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Steps to take for resolution

1. Tell the credit bureau, in writing, what information you believe to be inaccurate. The credit bureau must investigate the items in question – usually within 30 days – unless they consider your dispute frivolous. Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. In addition, provide your complete name and address. Your letter should clearly identify each item in your report that you dispute; state the facts and explain why you dispute the information; and request deletion or correction. You may want to enclose a copy of your credit report with the questionable items indicated. Send all of this information together by certified mail with a receipt requested. Keep a copy of your letter and all enclosures.

2. You should write to the appropriate creditor or other information provider, explaining that you are disputing the information provided to the bureau. Include copies of documents that support your position. Many creditors maintain a specific address for disputes.

3. If the provider again reports the same information to a bureau, it must include a notice of your dispute. Request that the provider copy you on correspondence that they send to the bureaus. This process can take between 30 and 90 days. In many states, you will be eligible to receive a free credit report directly from the bureau, once a dispute has been registered, in order to verify the updated information. Contact the appropriate credit bureau to see if you qualify for this service.