Credit Report Disputes

July 1, 2009

One potential way to improve your credit score is to look through your credit reports for any misreported information, such as a late payment, and dispute your credit report. 

1) Start off by getting a copy of your free credit report and looking for any errors.

2) If you find anything, check to see if the mistake shows up on your reports from other credit bureaus. You will need to file separate disputes with each credit bureau that shows the mistake.

3) Go to each bureau’s Web site for instructions on how to file a dispute, what happens after the bureau receives a dispute, and what actions to take if you think your identity has been stolen:

4) Clearly identify each error in the report and explain why you think the information is wrong.
Keep detailed records of what corrections you requested, along with copies of supporting documentation.

5) Don’t send any original documents if you submit your dispute in the mail; make photocopies and send those instead. 

6) Keep a record of when and how you contacted each credit bureau, noting any follow-up phone calls and the names of the people with whom you spoke. In case the correction isn’t resolved smoothly, these records and notes will come in handy.

7) If you find any evidence of identity theft, such as an open account that you know you never opened, make sure to follow the credit bureau’s instructions for reporting identity theft.

The credit bureau should respond to your dispute in writing within four to six weeks. If the bureau agrees with you, the bureau will correct the mistake. If there is a dispute over the corrections you’ve requested, or if you think that someone has stolen your identity and is using your credit, be prepared for a long period of back-and-forth communication with the credit bureau and your creditors.

The burden of proof lies with the bureau, if it can’t prove that the information in question is correct then it has to delete it. However the process of resolving a dispute or unraveling a case of identity theft can be complex and lengthy. Good luck!


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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3 Responses to Credit Report Disputes

  • The Little Dough Girl

    I’ve had good results with this! I had four things on my report that were not my fault at all and were reported in error of incorrectly. It took FOREVER for them to fix it and I got responses from the companies that one company removed an item and another didn’t. I kept at the ones who didn’t and eventually got them removed. I have also found that if you don’t accept the first response and keep at it, the older the item, the better chance that they’ll just remove it. Like you said, the burden of proof is theirs and many times they just don’t have the energy to keep fighting you.


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