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What to Dispute on a Credit Report

What to Dispute on a Credit Report

What to Dispute on a Credit Report

You are very conscious of your credit report, so you want it to be as accurate as possible. This is because it has a huge impact on whether you can borrow money or have access to other financial services. Also, it may affect getting a job or insurance or renting a place to live.

Around 25% of U.S. consumers found errors that could affect their credit scores in one of their credit reports, according to a 2012 study by the Federal Trade Commission. The same study reported that one in five consumers had an error that a credit bureau corrected after the consumer disputed the mistake on at least one report.

So what happens when you discover some errors in your credit report? What items can you dispute on your credit report and how can you do that? Let’s see.

  • How to Know if my Credit Report is Accurate
  • What Should I Put When Disputing Credit Report?
  • What is The Best Reason to Dispute a Credit Report?
  • Should I Dispute Everything on my Credit Report?
  • Do Disputes Hurt Your Credit Score?
  • What do You Put in a Dispute Letter?
  • How Can I Wipe my Credit Clean?
  • Is it Good to Dispute Collections?
  • When Should I Dispute a Collection?

How to Know if my Credit Report is Accurate

The information in your credit report can affect your buying power and your chance to get a job, rent or buy a place to live, and buy insurance. Credit bureaus sell the information in your report to businesses that use it to decide whether to loan you money, give you credit, offer you insurance, or rent you a home. Some employers use credit reports in hiring decisions. The strength of your credit history also affects how much you will have to pay to borrow money.

Read Also: How to Give a Credit Audit

You’ll want to be sure the information in your report is both accurate and complete. Find out by regularly checking your credit report. You have the right to get free copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months. (That’s Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.) To get your free credit reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.

Through December 2022, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at AnnualCreditReport.com. Also, anyone in the U.S. can get 6 free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. That’s in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Checking your credit report is also a good way to spot identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, Social Security number, or medical insurance account numbers — without your permission. They might buy things with your credit cards, get new credit cards in your name, open a phone, electricity, or gas account in your name, steal your tax refund, or use your health insurance to get medical care.

Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the account is reported on your credit report as unpaid and delinquent. Inaccurate information like that could end up on your credit report and affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job. If you think someone might be using your personal information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report it and get a personalized recovery plan.

What Should I Put When Disputing Credit Report?

Both the credit bureau and the business that supplied the information to a credit bureau have to correct information that’s wrong or incomplete in your report. And they have to do it for free. To correct mistakes in your report, contact the credit bureau and the business that reported the inaccurate information. Tell them you want to dispute that information on your report. Here’s how.

Dispute mistakes with the credit bureaus

You should dispute with each credit bureau that has the mistake. Explain in writing what you think is wrong, include the credit bureau’s dispute form (if they have one), copies of documents that support your dispute, and keep records of everything you send. If you send your dispute by mail, you can use the address found on your credit report or a credit bureau’s address for disputes.

Your letter should:

  • Ask the credit bureau to remove or correct the inaccurate or incomplete information.
  • Include:
    • your complete name and address
    • each mistake that you want fixed, and why
    • copies (not originals) of documents that support your request
    • a copy of your report (circle the mistakes you want fixed),

Send your letter by certified mail and pay for a “return receipt” so you have a record the credit bureau got it. Keep copies of everything you sent. The credit bureaus also accept disputes online or by phone:

  • Experian: (888) 397-3742
  • Transunion: (800) 916-8800
  • Equifax: (866) 349-5191

What happens after you dispute with a credit bureau

  • However you filed your dispute, the credit bureau has 30 days to investigate it.
  • If the credit bureau considers your request to be “frivolous” or “irrelevant,” they will stop investigating, but they need to notify you of that and give the reason. For instance, you may need to give them additional evidence to support your request.
  • The credit bureau will also forward all the evidence you submitted to the business that reported the information. Then, the business must investigate and report the results back to the credit bureau. If the business finds the information they reported is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide credit bureaus so they can correct the information in your file.
  • The credit bureau must give you the results in writing and, if the dispute results in a change, a free copy of your credit report. This doesn’t count as your free annual credit report.
  • The credit bureau
    • must send notices of the correction(s) to anyone who got your report in the past six months, if you ask
    • must send notice of the correction to anyone who got a copy for employment purposes during the past two years, if you ask

What if the investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute

  • You can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. Also, you can ask that the credit bureau give your statement to anyone who got a copy of your report in the recent past  —  you can expect the credit bureau to charge you a fee to do this.

What is The Best Reason to Dispute a Credit Report?

Because this information is critical to how lenders perceive your credit management habits when you apply for a loan or credit card, it’s important that all the information on your credit report is accurate. If you believe any account information is incorrect, you should dispute the information to have it either removed or corrected.

If, for example, you have a collection or multiple collections appearing on your credit reports and those debts do not belong to you, you can dispute them and have them removed. However, if they are a result of missed payments on accounts you own, disputing them will not change your credit file.

If you have a collection account on your credit report that you believe doesn’t belong to you, you should file a dispute to have it removed. The process for filing a dispute is relatively simple and generally starts with you pulling your credit reports, which you can do for free weekly. You can also get your Experian credit report for free through Experian.

Normally, collections are disputed because the debtor believes they are incorrect for some reason. For example, if you review a copy of your credit report and you see a collection account that you believe belongs to another person, has an incorrect balance, or is greater than seven years old, you can file a dispute. (Keep in mind that payments made on your account may not be reported to the credit reporting agencies immediately.)

If, however, the debt is valid and you simply disagree with the fact that your original creditor sent it to collections, disputing it will likely result in the account being verified as accurate and remaining on our credit file.

Should I Dispute Everything on my Credit Report?

You generally cannot have negative but accurate information removed from your credit report. You can, however, dispute accurate information if it appears multiple times. Most negative information will remain in your report for seven years. Some types of information remain longer.

You can also dispute negative information that arose from identity theft or is not information about you.  The credit reporting companies should remove these items from your credit reports.

Beware of anyone who claims that they can remove information from your credit report that’s current, accurate, and negative. It’s probably a credit repair scam.

You have the legal right to dispute inaccurate information directly with both the credit reporting companies and the companies that furnish your information to the credit reporting companies. To fully protect your rights, you should always dispute credit report inaccuracies with them both. They must conduct a reasonable investigation, and fix mistakes as needed, usually within 30 days, at no cost to you.

There is no reason to pay someone else to dispute inaccuracies on your credit report for you as it is already a legal right available to you for free.

Do Disputes Hurt Your Credit Score?

Filing a dispute has no impact on your score, however, if the information on your credit report changes after your dispute is processed, your credit scores could change.

How it changes—whether it goes up, down or stays the same—is dependent on what you are disputing and the outcome of the dispute. For example, late payments have a negative impact on credit scores; if a late payment was mistakenly reported on your credit report, and you had this incorrect information removed through the dispute process, your credit scores will most likely improve.

Some information on your credit report has no impact on credit scores, such as identification and address information. If you corrected this type of information, it will not affect your credit scores.

After your dispute is completed, (this generally takes about 30 days) log in to your Experian account to see how your dispute affected your FICO® Score from Experian.

If you receive your dispute results and don’t agree with them, you have a few options:

1. Contact the Source of the Information

Your best next step is to contact the entity that originally provided the information to Experian. This is usually the creditor, lender, or financial institution that provided the loan or credit initially, but could also be a collection agency or office of the government. The contact details for the source of each piece of information appear on your credit report. View your credit report to get the contact information.

2. Add a Statement of Dispute

A statement of a dispute allows you to explain why you believe the information is inaccurate or incomplete. The statement will appear on your Experian credit report whenever it’s accessed or requested by a potential lender or creditor, so they may ask you for more details or documentation as part of their review or application process. To add a statement of dispute, go to the Dispute Center, choose the item in dispute, and select “Add a Statement” from the menu of dispute reasons.

3. Dispute Again With Relevant Information

If you have additional relevant information to substantiate your claim, you can submit a new dispute by uploading the additional documentation through Experian’s Online Dispute Center. Once your dispute has been submitted you will be presented with a link to upload supporting documentation.

You can also access the doc upload screen from your dispute results. Dispute with additional relevant information can also be submitted by mail to Experian at Experian, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013.

Congratulations on taking an active role in managing your credit report through the dispute process. Remember, check your credit report regularly to keep it in tip-top shape and to make sure your credit scores are as high as possible so you are ready to get credit when you need it.

What do You Put in a Dispute Letter?

Use this sample letter to dispute incorrect or inaccurate information that a business supplied to credit bureaus. Your letter should identify each item you dispute, state the facts, explain why you dispute the information and ask that the business that supplied the information take action to have it removed or corrected. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the item(s) in question circled. Send your letter by certified mail with “return receipt requested,” so you can document that the business got it. Keep your originals. Include copies of the documents that support your request and save copies for your files.


[Your Name]

[Your Address][Your City, State, Zip Code]

[Business Name]

[Street Address][City, State, Zip Code]

Subject: Disputing Information in Credit Report

I am writing to dispute the following information that your company supplied to [give the name of the credit bureau whose report has incorrect information]. I have circled the items I dispute on the attached copy of my credit report(s).

This item [for instance: retailer account at ABC Department Store and the account number] is inaccurate [or incomplete] because [describe in detail what is inaccurate or incomplete and why] I am requesting that [business name] have the item removed [or request another specific change to correct the information.]

[Add list and description of other disputed items, if that applies.]

Enclosed are copies of [my credit report and any other documents enclosed with a short description, for instance, your record of payments made] supporting my request. Please reinvestigate this matter and contact the national credit bureaus to have them delete [or correct] the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.


[Your name]

How Can I Wipe my Credit Clean?

It’s possible to wipe your credit rating clean rapidly without breaking the law or hiring a specialist. You can pay your creditors to delete charged-off credit cards, delinquent accounts, unpaid bills, and any other negative entry from your credit rating. If you have spare cash, you can repair your credit instantly without going through the laborious process of waiting for negative entries to drop off of your credit report and using secured credit cards to build your credit score back up slowly.

Who Has the Debt?

Read your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Find the negative entries that you would like removed. Make note of the creditors and their contact information. The only negative item that you can’t remove from your credit report is bankruptcy, but anything else is open to negotiation.

First Steps

Contact the creditor by mail or over the phone and request a “pay for delete” on the entry. If the amount owed is under $500, you can increase your chances of success by offering the full amount in return for a deletion. If the amount is larger, start by offering 10 percent; move up from there if you’re denied. Make sure that you request that the deletion occurs within 10 to 30 days of the company receiving your payment.

The Waiting Game

Now you must wait for a reply from the creditor. The amount of time you can expect to wait varies, but typically 30 days is enough time to receive a reply. Don’t send any payment until you receive the agreement in writing stating that this negative item will be removed from your credit report once you pay. After you receive this agreement, in writing, send payment promptly as agreed. You can use a check or even a money order if you don’t want your creditors to find out where you keep your bank accounts.

Following Up

Monitor your credit report to ensure that the creditor follows through with your agreement. In most cases, it will follow through promptly, but it usually takes 30 days or more for your credit report to update. You now can further improve your credit score by paying bills and making loan payments on time. A credit report clean of negative entries will improve your chances of being approved for affordable loans and credit cards, but good credit history is necessary for building your score over the long term.

Is it Good to Dispute Collections?

Debt collectors are not stupid. They have already bought your debt—probably for pennies on the dollar—and their goal is to get their money back and then some. To do this, they will try a variety of sneaky tactics. They may play on your fear by threatening you or on your guilt by shaming you.

Read Also: How to Read a Credit Report

They may offer you a deal that sounds too good to be true—“You pay us half of what you owe and we will call it good!” Pretty tempting, but don’t fall for it! It is usually worth the effort to dispute the debt. At the very least, it will buy you some time. Best case scenario: you find out you do not owe the debt at all! Our top reasons to dispute a debt:

  • If they can’t verify it, you don’t owe! After a debt collector calls you, he has five days to send you a letter telling you how much you owe, the date of the original debit, the name of the original creditor, and what you should do if you think there is a mistake. If any of this information is missing or looks fishy, you have 30 days to dispute it in writing.
  • If the debt is old, they can’t collect! Debt collectors are often trying to collect an old debt. If they can’t verify the date or the original debt is more than four years old, they can’t sue you for it. Watch out, though—if you pay even a penny towards old debt, the statute of limitations starts over and it’s open season on suing you for the whole amount.
  • It could keep the debt off your credit report. Once you dispute a debt, the debt collector has to cease all collection activity and cannot report it to the credit reporting agencies (CRA). If he has already reported the debt, he must inform the CRA that it is under dispute.

The bottom line is, that when you dispute a debt with a debt collector, you are challenging him to prove it. Because this debt may have already passed through several hands and information has been lost along the way, the debt collector often can’t prove it according to the law, and you can get out of it.

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