How to dispute items on your credit report

Paperwork

Paperwork can help back up your dispute on a credit report item. Image: Flickr / lejoe / CC-BY-SA

In many everyday financial situations, your credit report is your reputation, on paper. When an item that may not be accurate appears on your credit report, disputing the item on your report is important.

Write it up

The first step of disputing items on your credit report is to put your dispute in writing. Gather the following information:

  • The name of the item you are disputing as it is listed in your credit report.
  • Exactly what information you believe is inaccurate.
  • Copies (not originals) of any supporting documentation for your dispute.
  • Exactly what action you would like the credit reporting agency to take, such as removing the report.

Send the dispute

With the information in-hand, contact each of the credit reporting agencies that list the disputed item. Record the date and time that the dispute is submitted.

TransUnion: provides a form to fill out at http://www.transunion.com/docs/personal/InvestigationRequest_Chester.pdf
Equifax: has an online dispute process at https://www.ai.equifax.com/CreditInvestigation/
Experian: has an online dispute process at http://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html

Know what is going to happen

When you dispute an item on the credit report, the credit reporting agency is required to investigate the report. Only if agencies consider your report “frivolous” will they not investigate. A note will be placed in your credit report that the item is being investigated. While the item is being investigated, that item will not be considered in calculating your FICO score. The agency has 45 days to investigate the item and must inform you of the result of the investigation.

Adding to or removing items

If an item is removed from your credit report and then re-added for any reason, the credit reporting agency must inform you. You are also allowed to add a 100-word “consumer credit statement” to your report in any situation. This means you are allowed to offer context to your report. Keep in mind that the consumer credit statement is not figured into the FICO score, and many lenders do not read the statement.

If any credit report dispute results in a change to your credit report, you are entited to a free copy of your report from that agency. This free report is entirely separate from your free yearly report.

Sources:

FTC.gov
Equifax
Experian

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