Your credit report contains key information that identifies you and how you’ve paid your bills. Whenever you make a credit-based application, your credit report is reviewed to help make a decision. If, for some reason, your information is reported incorrectly, it could cause you to be denied for services for which you would otherwise would have been approved.
That’s why it’s so important to check your credit report periodically for errors. If you find mistakes on your credit report, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, FCRA, gives you the right to submit a credit report dispute to remove inaccurate information.
Review Your Credit Report
To find out if there is any incorrect information on your credit report, you need a copy of the report. Under federal law, you have the right to one free copy of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus annually. See How To Get A Free Credit Report for details on ordering your annual credit report.
Review your report thoroughly to make sure the information reported is correct. If your credit report has incorrect information, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to dispute the information.
File A Credit Report Dispute
When you find something incorrect in your credit report, you should alert, in writing, both the credit bureau who provided the report and the information provider. This is the process to dispute credit report information and will enable you to clean up your credit report.
If you have statements or cancelled checks that support your claim, include copies of them with your statement(keep the originals for records). In your statement, include your name, complete address, the information you are disputing, and the reason the information is not accurate. It will be helpful to include a copy of your credit report with the disputed information highlighted.
Send your credit report dispute via certified mail with return receipt requested. This way you not only have proof that you sent the dispute, but also that the credit bureau received your dispute. Keep a copy of the letter along with any enclosures you sent.
The Credit Bureau Responds To Your Dispute
The credit bureau has 30 days to investigate your dispute and respond to you, in writing, with the results of the investigation. Any data you provided about the inaccuracy of the information will be forwarded to the original information provider. The information provider is then required to investigate and respond back to the credit bureau.
Once the investigation is complete, the credit bureau will provide you with the results, along with a free copy of your credit report if the dispute resulted in a change. You can request that the credit bureau send a correction notice to any company that accessed your credit report within the past six months.
If there is inaccurate information in one credit bureau’s version of your credit report, it’s likely that the information will be inaccurate on the other two bureaus’ reports as well. You should check all three credit reports to be sure that the information in each is complete and accurate.