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Fixing Report Errors – How to Write a Credit Dispute Letter
While errors on your credit report may not be common, mistakes do happen. In fact, a study by the Federal Trade Commission found that one in four consumer credit reports contained at least one error—making it even more important that you regularly check your credit report.
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are the three major credit reporting bureaus, and since you’re entitled to one free credit report per bureau per year, there is ample opportunity to review for mistakes.
Identifing the Problem
If you think there may be an error in your credit report, it’s important that you contact both your creditor and the credit reporting agency where the mistake is listed to dispute it. Credit reporting agencies are required by the Fair Credit Billing Act to investigate your claim, and if the credit reporting agency can’t confirm the information, then they have to remove the mistake from your credit report.
Here are the steps you need to take in order to properly dispute an error in your credit report.
Step 1. Gather the Required Documents
If you’ve found an error in your credit report, your first step should be to gather the neccassary documents that support your claim. If there’s a dispute with a particular loan, gather the actual documentation to validate your claim. It will be much easier to dispute an error if you submit proof within your request.
Step 2. Send a Dispute Letter
After you’ve gathered the proper documentation, your next step should be to contact both your creditor and the credit reporting agency. The FTC has a sample dispute letter, which you can find here. Remember to send a letter to both the credit reporting bureau where the error appears as well as your bank or lender.
Step 3. Remember to Follow Up
The entire process should take between 30 to 90 days. However, it’s up to you to make sure your errors were adequately addressed. In the event that your error(s) aren’t removed, there are other steps you can take. The FTC offers a detailed guide on what you can do in the event your errors aren’t sufficiently addressed.
For reference, here is the contact information for all three credit reporting bureaus:
Be sure you verify that the credit mistake is removed from all three credit bureaus. Since the credit bureaus do not always communicate changes to each other, it will be up to you to verify that corrections to your credit report are shown consistently.
If the problems on your credit report are correctly reported and are due to having trouble paying your bills on time, then our nonprofit debt consolidation services may be able to help. Contact us online by filling out the form above, or give our counselors a call at 1-800-500-6489.