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How To Dispute Credit Report Errors

Written by Diane Moogalian on June 14, 2010 in Credit  |   24 comments

How To Dispute Credit Report Errors By Diane Moogalian Whenever you pull your credit report, you should check the accuracy of the information within it. You check your credit report at least once a year (you can obtain your annual, free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com),…

Credit report disputesHow To Dispute Credit Report Errors
By Diane Moogalian

Whenever you pull your credit report, you should check the accuracy of the information within it.

You check your credit report at least once a year (you can obtain your annual, free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com), but you might also want to check your file before you plan to make a major purchase. If you know what information appears on your credit report, you can determine whether there are inaccuracies and dispute them before you seek new credit.

Any inaccurate information on your credit file can impact your credit score. If you have been a victim of fraud, or if a creditor incorrectly reports your account as delinquent, it may decrease your credit score and may affect your ability to get credit at a better rate.

When you pull your credit report, check your personal information for accuracy first. Is your name spelled correctly? Is your correct address listed?

Then check the accounts that are listed. Make sure they all look familiar and they all belong to you. If you see accounts you don’t recognize, this could be a sign of fraud or identity theft. (The process of addressing fraud on your account is similar to that of filing a dispute, but we’ll talk more about fraud alerts in my next post.)

Steps for Filing a Dispute

Ask yourself the following questions about your credit report:

  • Is my personal information-my name and address-correct?
  • Are all of my credit accounts listed?
  • Is my account payment history correct for each creditor?
  • Are the balances and account age (date opened) correct for each of my accounts? ?
  • Is there negative information on my report that should have cycled off (e.g. bankruptcies, liens, judgments, etc.)?
  • Are there any inquiries on my account for credit I did not apply for?
  • Are there any inactive accounts that show new activity?

If you think any of the information in your credit file is incomplete or incorrect, you can notify the credit reporting agency (CRA) directly, to initiate a dispute-free of charge. At Equifax, you can file a dispute online, by mail or by phone. Click here for more information about how to start an investigation/file a dispute with Equifax.

If you find an inaccuracy with one CRA, you may want to get your credit file from the other two credit agencies to see if their files contain the same error:

Experian: www.experian.com
TransUnion: www.transunion.com

After you’ve corrected an error with one CRA, the other agencies should eventually receive the corrected information. However, for prompt correction, it’s best to contact the other two agencies individually to dispute the error. You may also contact your creditor directly to dispute inaccurate information.

What Happens after I File My Dispute?

By law, a CRA is required to investigate a dispute within thirty to forty-five days of its filing. In thirty days (or forty-five if the dispute is based on your annual free credit report), the CRA will notify you of the outcome of your dispute. If you submit your complaint by mail, the notification will be mailed to you; if you file online, you can receive email updates throughout the investigation.

Based on the investigation, the CRA will either update the current status of the disputed information (which may include letting you know if the furnisher of the information verified that it was reporting correctly) or delete the item from your file. If the creditor has verified information that you disputed as accurate, the information will remain in your credit file, but you can add a statement of explanation. Learn how to add a statement of explanation to your credit file.

Remember, the credit reporting agencies do not create the information on your credit file; they are simply repositories for the information provided them by creditors. It is best to monitor your credit regularly to make sure all the information is up-to-date and accurate.

Read More.

24 comments

  1. Marvin says:

    Why does Equifax not dispute inquiries anymore?

  2. Equifax Experts says:

    @marvin: Thanks for your question! Since the credit agencies treat an inquiry as a statement of activity (simply reporting events) it is generally not disputable.

    -Diane Moogalian

  3. DebrahMain says:

    Can a FICO score be less than 300?

  4. Jennifer A. Freeman says:

    Hi Debrah, thanks for reading the blog. FICO score range from 300 – 850.

    You can read more about FICO scores here: https://help.equifax.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/21/session/L3NpZC9DWkVaUGw4aw%3D%3D/search/1

    Jennifer
    Editor for the Equifax Personal Finance Blog

  5. carlos says:

    Equifax only reports based on what the creditors report. Ha. they screwed up mine, they grabbed someone elses file and erased/replaced mine with this other person's, they only left my social intact. It took a detective, local PD. and me 3 days to figure out that I wasn't a victim of fraud but instead of Equifax's stupidity. it's been a couple of weeks and they are still asking me to prove my identity every 2 days, when all the creditors have cleared me and shown that they provided correct information but this stupid agency due to incompetence replaced my credit file with someone elses.

  6. Chris Roller says:

    Hey Diane, I recently did a Rapid Rescore and equifax was the only one of the big three that is making me wait 30 days for one account to delete. Why did they delete it and equifax won’t??

  7. LEE says:

    hi how i can remove my pubic record after paid off for collection
    it was a mistake between landlord and me and i got small amount of TWO HUNDRED
    FROM HYDRO, I PAID OFF BUT HOW CAN I REMOVE FROM MY EQUIFAX
    THX

  8. EFX Finance Blog Editor, JF says:

    @Lee – Collection accounts generally remain on your credit file for seven years from the date the account first became past due, leading to the account’s placement with a collection agency. You can find more information about how long items remain on your credit file here: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/faq-how-long-does-information-stay-on-my-credit-report/

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  9. John Levings, Gr Rapids, Michigan says:

    Unreported discharged mortgage…

    Equifax (Transunion & Experian) refuses to include a paid off mortgage in my credit file because it is not being ‘reported.’ Both the original mortgage lie n& corresponding discharge are in the Public record (Count Register of Deeds office) & I have provided (Equifax) w/ photocopies of the document w/ the liber & page highlighted. The loan amount was $93,000. The loan was originated by a National Bank which normally reports mortgages liens & discharges. In this case, the Bank refuses to report this mortgage for ‘privacy reasons.’

    (If privacy was a genuine concern, why did the Bank register the lien w/ the County Register of Deeds office thereby placing it the Public record?)

    Overlooking this inconsistency on the part of the lender, Equifax should be interested in all paid off debts in the public record for the sake of comprehensive accuracy – for both the borrower’s & lender’s credit files.

    After years of attempting to have the

  10. Skip says:

    Why does negative information from third party collection companies (old debt)that they buy continue to be shown long after the seven year period from last activity. It’s like they reset the clock once they buy the old debt for the original creditor. I’m referring to an almost 9 year time period.

    • toni says:

      how do you removea collection debt that is over 7 years old; where they keep re-establishing collections under a different company?

      • Susan Woody says:

        I would like to know this as well. When I lost my son, I was a mess. I moved in with my daughter and submitted a change of address with post office. I then saw a number of doctors (cancer too) and many of those bills were sent to my old address after the change of address expired. So after grieving for some time, I checked my credit report and I had 10 collection accounts for small amounts (less than $50 ea). Many of these are paid, many have been resold. So it appears they are brand new but they are over 5 yrs old.
        Do I now have to be punished for another 7 yrs? keeping it on my record for a total of 12 yrs because they sold the debt to someone else???
        I’ve disputed it, but it came back “unchanged”. Very frustrating when I couldn’t have known when the mail was going elsewhere and my medical offices knew my new address.

  11. Rich says:

    My credit report includes my deceased father’s credit information, as well as his employment and residence information. Due to this fact, I can’t even file an online dispute as I am unaware of his loan history. Any ideas as to how I should proceed?

  12. So says:

    About 3 years ago, my boyfriend got a notice from Bank of America that he overdrawn his debit that he hadn’t touch in months and it also had funds in there so it was never negative in the first place. He was 18 and the customer service told him this “since it’s fraud, the best we can do for you is settle for half and you’re good to go”, being 18, he didn’t know that by settling for half, he would have a negative report on his credit. He had $13,000 in his bank account, he would’ve have paid the $100 off no problem but because the customer service insured that everything was fine, he did just that. Now 3 years later, he never got any notice from Bank of America, he tried to get a credit card and he found out that his credit report is negative. He called and called and ask if there’s anything he can do, if he can resettle or pay what he owes. All they said to him “it was your choice, we can’t do anything about it”. What can he do when Bank of America and their recovery department refuses to help him? how long will this negative stays on his credit report?

  13. Paul says:

    Collection account. How can they be attached to my account without any legal action. I have one which is not correct. They have refused to take me to small claims court because they know they will lose. How can a collection just be placed against me.

  14. Kiril says:

    To susan I believe shoitmeng that can negatively impact your score is revolving credit balance near their cap so if you have a 10,000 credit card and you owe 9,500, that can drag down your score. That’s the capacity thing and I don’t know the threshold.Other things that could have a huge impact would be late payments (obvious), # of inquiries and shoitmeng I don’t see above is total possible debt by this I mean the sum total of your open lines of credit (credit cards, home equity lines etc). I am not intending to provide any financial advice by posting this comment and a professional should be consulted in any matters having to do with your finances.Thought I’d mention too that at least for portions of the U.S. you can go to annualcreditreport.com to request a free credit report. I did and found a bunch of errors and accounts not reflecting Closed .

  15. Bobby says:

    I have things on my credit report that have been on there for seven plus years and it have no dropped of yet what should I do

  16. JCC says:

    I have a credit card listed on my Equifax report that is NOT MINE. I never received or used it. I have tried for the past 1.5 months to get this off of my Equifax report.

    The original credit card holder called B of A to ensure I was not on the card. B of A verified it & sent TWO letters stating I am not an account holder, not an authorized user and not liable for charges. I sent this documentation to Equifax via online & via fax. Each dispute result states I AM the account holder & an authorized user.

    Both TranUnion & Experian have since removed it yet the card STILL remains on my Equifax report.

    How the h*ll does anyone remove something like this from their report? B of A credit services have VERIFIED it is not mine. The original account holder VERIFIED it is not mine. Why is Equifax denying removal?

    What do I do now?!?!?!

    • EFX Moderator_KB says:

      JCC, we would like to help you address your matter. If you would please submit your matter/inquiry, along with your legal name, your city/state, and the email address you used for the Equifax registration, to equifaxsupport@facebook.com. A Customer Support agent will respond to you directly.


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