Best Way to Dispute Errors on Credit Reports

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  • As a credit history document, your credit reports need to be accurate. 
  • Look for inaccuracies in your personal information and accounts, such as your delinquency status.
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service such as Credit Karma to keep tabs on updates to your credit report. 

Your credit report documents your credit-related activity, resulting in your credit score and the terms of any money you borrow. If you want the best interest rates on a credit card, mortgage, or personal line of credit, you’ll want to ensure your credit report accurately reflects your credit history.

Checking your credit report periodically is also the best way to stay on top of any fraudulent purchases, inaccurate information, or identity theft issues that could crop up. You can employ identity theft protection services to keep tabs on your credit report and secure your identity. You can find Insider’s guide to the best identity theft companies here.

Even the best identity theft companies and best credit monitoring services usually stop short of reporting errors on your credit report to the credit bureaus. However, you can dispute an error on your credit report yourself through several easy steps. 

How to dispute your credit report

1. Request a free copy of your credit report

Before you can object to anything in your credit report, you’ll need to gain access to it to see what’s in there. Everyone is eligible for one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus — which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — from

Setting a reminder to check in with a different agency every four months is a great way to keep an eye on your credit report throughout the year.


2. Be thorough about the information

Once you receive the report (which happens instantly), make sure you go through the report itself carefully and thoroughly. You can double-check any reports of new lines of credit, missing or late payments on current credit cards or loans, and check out which hard inquiries have popped up.

Common inaccuracies to look out for

Margaret Poe, head of consumer credit education at TransUnion, says that certain information on your credit reports will be more susceptible to error than others. For example, she says that monthly balances are usually very accurate as long as the overarching information on your credit report is correct. 

“I wouldn’t say that you need to go through with a ledger of your actual credit card and compare number to number,” Poe says.

Identity information: Make sure your name, address, date of birth, social security number, and all other information is accurately reported. Inaccurate information may result from a mixed credit report (when the information from one credit report gets spliced into another) or identity theft.

Account status: An error on your account status can come in many forms:

  • Accounts on your credit report that you did not open
  • Incorrect credit limits on each revolving credit account
  • Incorrect account payment status, such as a misreported delinquency on a credit account
  • Incorrect date of delinquency reported on a delinquent payment
  • Delinquencies older than seven years that are still on your credit report

Reinsertion of incorrect information: If you’ve noticed incorrect information on your credit report, there’s a likelihood that it will reappear at one point or another. Make a note of corrections you’ve had to make in the past and keep an eye out to see if those same errors reappear on your current credit report.

3. Contact your creditor

Depending on the problem, you may be able to solve a credit report problem by directly contacting the creditor — like your bank — and resolving the issue. Have as much information as possible, including inaccurate information from your report, to hopefully resolve the issue quickly and in your favor.

4. File dispute with credit bureaus

If you cannot resolve your problem directly through the source, your next step would be to contact the credit reporting company that issued the report. You will need to prepare some documents that substantiate that the item you’re challenging is an error, including your credit report with the error circled and how it can be rectified. 

You can do so over the phone, online, or through the mail. 

If you’re filing a dispute by mail, you can use the FTC’s sample letter to alert the credit reporting company in writing about the inaccurate information. Be sure to mail your form letter to the credit reporting agency by certified “return receipt requested” mail so that you can track the movements of your request. Keep copies for yourself of all the documentation.


Federal Trade Commission

You may also ask the credit reporting company to send correction notices to anyone else who received your report in the past six months and anyone who received a copy for employment reasons during the past two years.

5. Wait the appropriate amount of time to follow up

Credit reporting companies should investigate your issue within 30 days unless they deem your argument frivolous. When they have finished their investigation, they will contact you in writing to let you know and send you a free copy of your report with the change listed.

6. Add a consumer statement to your credit report

Suppose your request for a change to your credit report doesn’t resolve in your favor. Unfortunately, unresponsiveness from the credit bureaus can be quite common. A Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report from 2022 revealed that across all three credit bureaus, only 2% of covered complaints received relief in 2021, down from 25% in 2019. 

In that case, you can still add a consumer statement to your credit report mentioning the dispute, which will be visible to anyone who recently received a copy of your report. There is usually a fee associated with this service, so be sure to ask about that before doing this step.

Dispute credit reports with Credit Karma

In addition to your own vigilance in keeping tabs on your credit report throughout the year, it helps to sign up for credit monitoring services to keep you updated between credit reports. These services send notifications when new information is recorded on your credit report.

Credit Karma offers both free monitoring services for TransUnion and Equifax. Credit Karma also gives you the option to dispute any errors you see on your credit report from TransUnion and Equifax. Though in the CFPB’s analysis of credit bureau responses to disputes, it notes that credit bureaus were more likely to give substantive responses to disputes filed by consumers over third parties.

Experian offers its own credit monitoring services. With these two free services, you can monitor all three credit bureaus for free. However, you can also seek out other paid credit monitoring services or identity protection services which will give more comprehensive security.

Credit report dispute frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Errors on your credit report are surprisingly common. A Consumer Reports survey found that 34% of consumers had an error on at least one of their three credit reports.

To freeze your credit report, you need to reach out to all three credit bureaus individually. Freezing and unfreezing your credit is completely free, though it may take a few hours to complete. You can find the necessary information below for all three bureaus.

Equifax credit freeze: You can easily freeze your credit with Equifax on its website, or via an automated phone line: 800-685-1111 (800-349-9960 for New York residents). If you’d rather talk to a human, its customer care number is 888-298-0045. You can also freeze your credit by mail using its Fraud Request Alert Form.

Experian credit freeze: To freeze your credit at Experian, you can visit Experian’s online Freeze Center. You can also call 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742). You can also send a written request to Experian Security Freeze, PO Box 9554, Allen, Texas 75013.

TransUnion credit freeze: You can request a TransUnion credit freeze through their online portal. You can also add a freeze via the automated phone system (or opt to speak to a live agent) by calling 888-909-8872. You can also print and complete TransUnion’s Security Freeze Request Form

If your identity has been stolen, you should first notify any creditors involved in the case such as a credit card company the thief used to take out credit in your name.

You should then submit an identity theft report to the FTC. You can also file over the phone at 877-438-4338, though you will not receive any documentation of your report, which you will need when you talk to the credit bureaus.

Finally, you should go to the credit bureaus. You’ll first want to dispute all the incorrect information caused by the identity theft incident using the documentation you received from your report with the FTC. You should also place a fraud alert on your credit reports. As a victim of identity theft, you can set an extended fraud alert on your credit, which lasts for seven years. You only need to contact one credit bureau to place a fraud alert. That bureau will contact the other two.

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