How to Dispute an Item on Your Credit Report

Credit report with 520 credit scoreCredit reporting agencies and the businesses that report to them are responsible for maintaining accurate records. Unfortunately, the burden of proof still primarily relies on you, the consumer. The United States Federal Trade Commission recommends checking your credit report on a regular basis to spot and report errors.

Reporting Credit Report Errors

Conventionally, snail-mailing a credit reporting agency was the first step in removing a disputed item from your credit report, and is still fairly common today. The letter should be concise and professional; ideally, it’s about three paragraphs long and covers half a page or less. Open with a statement on why you’re writing to them, proceed to tell them what’s wrong, and then close by listing the documents you’ve included as proof.

The major credit reporting companies, such as TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, have an online system for reporting inaccuracies, but the dispute process isn’t much different. Its usually a little faster than snail-mail though.

Documents of proof may include receipts, copies of checks, correspondence with the business declaring a bill paid, or anything else that proves the inaccuracy of your credit report. These documents should only be copies of the originals, in case the letter gets lost in the mail, or the credit reporting company misplaces it.

Internal Investigation of the Dispute

The agency will then look into the matter and forward your complaint, with proof to the business who submitted the report. An investigation is then launched to determine the accuracy of the report. If the business fails to sufficiently debunk your claim of inaccuracy, the credit reporting agency adjusts or removes the item, then offers you a free credit report. They also prevent the business from reporting the same item again, unless additional proof is provided.

If the business does debunk your claim, the item remains. Either way, you should receive a letter containing the results of the investigation within about 30 days.

Note: Successfully removing an item from one credit report should eventually affect all credit reports, no matter what company the information is retrieved from.

Worst Case Scenario

If your dispute is decided against you, it should naturally fall off your credit report in seven years. The exception is bankruptcies, which last for one decade.

Businesses can wait as long as they’d like before reporting a negative item. Therefore, a dispute over an item that was reported months or years after that fact will likely be decided in the business’s favor, unless you have other arguments against its accuracy. In general, though, the item is still removed from the report seven to 10 years after the event took place, not seven to 10 years after the report.

Conclusion

Everyone is entitled to at least one free credit report per national credit reporting company, per year. If an error is found, tell the company in writing, not by phone. This way, you have proof of correspondence in case the company doesn’t reply. Here is a sample letter you can use to help you get started.

Never let an error slide because it’s small or you don’t have enough time. Every negative error hurts your credit score, which in turn makes it harder to be accepted for car loans, mortgages, or new credit cards. In addition, some places of employment check a potential employer’s credit report before hiring him or her, just to determine that person’s financial responsibility.

Posted on February 21, 2017 by in Credit Monitoring

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Comments & Discussion



11 Responses to “How to Dispute an Item on Your Credit Report”


Michael F. Belgin October 28, 2012

I visited the annualcreditreport.com website and started to respond to various questions.

This question created a problem: “Did you ever reside in Satellite Beach, Florida?”

I answered “NO” and I was directed to contact a credit bureau and provide a long list of information pertaining to residency.

I have lived in an unincorporated section of Brevard County Florida since 1972. The US Postal Service assigned the ZIP Code for Satellite Beach Florida (32937) to many homes in the beachside unincorporated areas of Brevard County Florida.

My business office for Somerset Electronics, Inc. was located at 1290 Highway A1A, Satellite Beach, FL 32937. Obviously, an office and not a residence.

This fact may also contribute to the confusion of Annualcreditreport.com.

It should be further noted that a credit report dated 04/22/2004 list my office address as a second previous address. Apparently, there is not distinction between a home address or a business address.

Approximately in the 1980’s (exact date unknown) the US Postal Service changed our residence ZIP Code from 32937 to Indialantic, Florida 32903.

Please advise how you will correct the errors in all credit reports applicable to the undersigned.

Michael F. Belgin
10282012

Michael F. Belgin October 28, 2012

I have responded and don’t understand ‘awaiting moderation’.

Michael F. Belgin
10282012

Wes October 28, 2012

Hi Michael,
You should contact the credit bureau you were directed to and provide the information requested.

judylwimber December 12, 2012

on my credit report there are 2 things that should not be on it and they are on cbb collections at the time these bills were created we did not live at the address. we were living on tigard ave in lockwood mt. we have our contract and rental agreement stating we lived there in 2006 these bill were created in 2007 we disputed them then and do so know please take them off our report
thank you Judy l Wimber

Wes December 12, 2012

HI Judy,
We are not a credit reporting agency and do not provide that type of service. Here’s the contact information for each of the credit bureaus so you can contact them directly.

Michael and Kristine Smith March 8, 2013

Hello,
Recently we had a credit report done and there are 2 items on the reports not ours. Please respond.
Thanks,
Michael and Kristine Smith

Wes March 9, 2013

Hi Michael and Kristine,
We’ve included the information you need to dispute the those items in the above article.

evelyn g February 19, 2015

I have a judgment on my credit report that I can’t find who to dispute or pay to. I’ve contacted all parties involved and no one can tell me how to get information on this judgement. I called transunion and they just tried to sell me on their products. I asked him if he knew who to talk to about my debt and he said it wouldn’t be through transunion. Do you know how to get information to pay on a judgement,? I even tried contacting the collections company they use and they had nothing oweing for me. Help

Mary March 17, 2015

It seems that someone took out a loan for a home in my name the Social Security number does not match any of the loan companies that this loan was taken out on so I am confused on how this is on my credit report and also it has been being paid for the last four years $380,000 that I just saw!

Wes March 27, 2015

Hi Evelyn,
Unfortunately it is hard to get much help from the credit bureaus over the phone. The best thing I’ve found is using the dispute forms linked to from this article. Sounds like the debt may have been paid so there’s a chance you could have it removed or at least marked satisfied. This page has some good information on dealing with judgements.

Wes March 27, 2015

Mary, It may have just been a mistake. You should probably grab a free credit report from each of the credit bureaus then dispute it with the agencies showing it.