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How to dispute an error on your credit report


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If you’ve spotted an error on one of your credit reports, you should take immediate steps to correct the inaccuracy.

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.

An error on your credit reports could lead to lower credit scores and impact your ability to open a new credit account or get a loan. Here are steps you can take to ask the credit bureaus to remove incorrect black marks from your credit.

1. Send a letter to the credit bureau

Once you identify an error on your credit reports, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends that you contact the credit bureaus that produced the reports with the error. Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, the three major credit bureaus, let you dispute inaccuracies on their respective consumer credit reports online or by mail.

Give your contact information and, in writing, explain what the error is and why it’s wrong. You’ll find sample letters to dispute credit report information with the credit bureau on the CFPB website. Be sure to include supporting documentation, such as a copy of an email verifying the status of the account that’s reported incorrectly. The CFPB also recommends that you keep copies of any letters or documentation that you send, and suggests that if you send it by mail, use certified mail with a return receipt.

Where to submit a dispute to the three major credit bureaus

Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Consumer Dispute Center

Chester, PA 19016

Errors on a credit reports could include .

  • Identity-related errors such as a misspelled name, wrong phone number or address, or your information incorrectly merged with another person’s credit record
  • Incorrectly reported accounts, such as a closed account reported as open or an account wrongly reported as delinquent
  • Account balance and credit limit errors
  • Reinsertion of inaccurate information after it’s corrected

2. Determine if you should contact the furnisher as well

The CFPB also recommends that you contact the company that provided the information to the credit bureau. Companies that provide information to credit bureaus are also known as furnishers. Examples of furnishers include banks and credit card issuers. If the furnisher’s address is listed on your credit report, send your dispute to that address or contact the company for the correct address.

You can try going directly to the furnisher and asking them to correct their reporting mistake before contacting the credit bureau, says Kevin Haney, a credit bureau expert at Savvy on Credit. That might save a step, since all the bureau can do in its investigation is communicate to the company that the consumer says it’s wrong, he says.

But if the error is an identity-related mistake made by a credit bureau, go to the bureau first.

“Those are the most likely to get corrected, because the bureau owns the problem so it doesn’t have to reach out to anyone,” Haney says.

In this case, you should also check with the other major credit bureaus to make sure the identity-related error isn’t on their reports as well.

3. Wait up to 45 days for the credit bureau or furnisher to investigate and respond

The credit bureau generally has 30 days after receiving your dispute to investigate and verify information with the furnisher. The credit bureau must also report the results back to you within five days of completing its investigation.

If you dispute the error with the information furnisher, that company must also report the results of its investigation to you. They also typically have 30 days to investigate. But if the furnisher stands by the accuracy of the information it reported, it won’t update or remove the error.

One more thing to note is that either the credit bureau or the furnisher may decide that your dispute is “frivolous.” This generally happens when you’ve submitted incorrect or incomplete information on the dispute, but can also occur if you’ve tried to contest the same item multiple times without any new information or if you’ve attempted to claim that everything on your credit report is incorrect without proof. If the bureau decides that your dispute is frivolous, it doesn’t need to investigate it further as long as it communicates that to you within five days, along with the reasoning for deeming the dispute frivolous. If your original dispute was labeled frivolous, you can try to resubmit a dispute with updated materials.

4. Review the results of the investigation

The credit bureau involved must provide you with results of the investigation in writing and also a free copy of your credit report if the dispute results in a change to that report. The credit bureau must also provide you with the name, address and phone number of the furnisher that reported the incorrect information.

If a furnisher continues to report a disputed item, it is required to notify the credit bureau involved about your dispute. If the disputed information is found to be inaccurate, the furnisher must tell the credit bureau to update or delete the item. The furnisher must also notify all the credit bureaus to which it sent the incorrect information so that the bureaus can correct their records.

Even if the furnisher insists that the disputed information is accurate, you can still request that the credit bureau include a statement in your credit file explaining the dispute.

5. Check for updates to your credit report

Updates to your affected credit reports may take some time to appear. It can depend on the specific credit bureau’s update cycle and when the furnisher sends the new information to the credit bureau.

If the update doesn’t appear on your credit reports within several months, contact the credit bureaus and the furnisher to verify it’s reporting your account information to the bureaus.

If you identify an error on your credit reports, it’s crucial to dispute it immediately. Down the line, negative or incorrect identity-related information — like a misspelled name, wrong address or transposed Social Security number digits — can affect your ability to get credit cards, loans, insurance and even a job. The dispute process isn’t complicated but it can be time consuming and frustrating, especially if the result isn’t in your favor. It’s well worth the effort, however, if you succeed with your dispute.


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So, go to and pay for a copy of your credit score. Go to and get a full credit report to give them if you want. They are going to pull one anyway, eventually. You can only ask them to not pull your credit unless they intend to complete the transaction with you as long as the score matches your report given to them.

Just remember, credit scores and reports can and do change hourly. You score is a snapshot of your credit at the instance it is pulled and is not guaranteed to remain the same for even a second. They will pull it again.

How to View (and Monitor) Your Credit Report For Free

If you keep a regular eye on your credit report, you’ll notice when identity thieves open accounts in your name and when errors are listed that might cause you problems in the future. Here’s how to do it for free.

US law entitles you to a free yearly credit report directly from each agency, but you’ll have to go elsewhere if you want to get your credit report more frequently. Don’t worry—it’s still free.

There are multiple credit reporting agencies. The “big three” in the USA are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. When you apply for credit—such as a credit card, loan, or mortgage—the lender pulls a copy of your credit report from one or more of these agencies. It’s up to the lender which agency they use.

These credit reports usually have the same accounts reported on them. For example, if you have two credit cards and an auto loan, you should see those three accounts appear on all of the three reports. However, if you apply for a mortgage, you’ll only see the bank’s inquiry (or “pull”) appear on whichever credit report they looked at.

While the reports should usually show the same information, it’s a good idea to check all three to ensure the information is correct.

Note that, while these services will show you a “credit score,” those credit scores are actually a pretty complicated topic. The credit reporting agency just reports raw data—like a list of your accounts, usage, credit limits, and payment history—and creditors can run that through a number of different models to get the numerical score they use.

For TransUnion and Equifax, Use Credit Karma

The free Credit Karma website shows data from both your Equifax and TransUnion reports. They also have free apps available for iPhone and Android.

After creating your free account, you can sign into the web site and click My Overview > Score Details > Credit Report to view either your TransUnion or Equifax report. Toggle between the two at the top of the page. In the app, both reports are right at the top of the main page.

If there’s a problem with something here, you can click an account to see more information about how to dispute an error.

Credit Karma lets you see updated information every seven days, so you can always see a recent copy of your credit report. They also send you alert emails when a new account appears on your report, or if they detect any change. So, if an identity thief ever steals your information and opens a new account in your name, you’ll get an early heads-up. They also can notify you if they discover that your email address has been exposed in another company’s public data breach.

To customize this, click Profile & Settings > Communications & Monitoring on the Credit Karma site (or hit the Settings icon in the app). Ensure “Credit Monitoring” is checked to get the emails.

Note that, while Credit Karma does display credit score numbers, this score is calculated using the VantageScore model. Most lenders actually use the FICO score model—and there are even different FICO score models used for different types of credit—so the actual numerical score your lender sees will be different.

This service is completely free. Credit Karma makes money through using your credit score to recommend credit cards and loans you might want to apply for. But you never have to apply for anything here.

For Experian, Use

Experian doesn’t make its data available on Credit Karma, but it does operate its own free credit score website. is owned by Experian and works similarly to Credit Karma. Apps for iPhone and Android are also available.

Warning: Experian attempts to use this free service to upsell you. They want to sell you features like an updated report every single day and the ability to see all three credit reports in a single place. However, you do not have to spend any money to use this service. Just be careful what you click.

Once you’ve signed up for free, you can view your credit report and a FICO score. Click Reports & Scores > Credit Reports > Experian to view it.

The website shows you a new Experian credit report every 30 days. This is less convenient than Credit Karma’s 7 day window, but still much more convenient than requesting a free credit report once per year from the reporting agencies themselves.

As with Credit Karma, Experian’s service will email you whenever it notices a change to your credit report, such as a new account that’s been opened and reported in your name. This gives you a heads-up if an identity thief opens an account in your name. You can click “Credit Alerts” on the website to see a list of recent alerts, too.

How to update information on your credit report

Your credit report is a key part of many of your personal finance decisions, from getting a credit card to applying for a mortgage.

So, what if you check your credit report and see an error? According to a 2012 CBC report, many Canadians have had errors on their credit reports that affected their ability to get approved for credit.

So if you spot one, how can you get it fixed?

Your credit report is a history of how you’re using and have used credit in the past.

Before making a major purchase such as a home or car, it’s a good idea to check your credit report, as it can affect your ability to be approved for more credit, as well as get hired for a job or rent an apartment.

By checking your credit report on a regular basis, you can spot errors and signs of identity theft.

You can request a copy of your credit report directly from the two main credit reporting agencies in Canada, Equifax and TransUnion. You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each credit reporting agency once a year.

You can also view your TransUnion credit report for free any time at Credit Karma.

What information can appear on your credit report?

Your credit report may include personal information, including your name, address, employment information, date of birth, telephone number, Social Insurance Number (SIN), driver’s licence and passport number.

It also contains credit history information, including:

  • Open credit accounts. This can include the date you opened the account, how much you owe, your payment history, if you’ve made the payments on time and if you’ve gone over your credit limit.
  • Telecommunications accounts. This can include your internet and mobile phone accounts.
  • Credit inquiries. Hard inquiries, which can occur when you apply for a credit product, can stay on your report for one to six years.
  • Accounts in collections. When a lender has made several unsuccessful attempts to collect debt, it may send your debt to a collection agency to attempt to recover the funds owing.
  • Public records. This can include bankruptcies and legal judgments against you.

If you fail to make payments on credit such as a car loan or mortgage and the lender takes actions to seize the assets, those may appear as well.

How frequently do errors occur on credit reports in Canada?

Although TransUnion wasn’t able to provide specific statistics on the number of errors typically found on credit reports, they say errors are relatively infrequent.

“In comparison to the total number of credit-active individuals in Canada, we see relatively few file disputes per year,” says David Blumberg, public relations director of TransUnion.

He adds that commonly disputed items on credit reports “tend to relate to payment information or updates related to debt repayment programs, such as bankruptcy and credit counselling.”

Other errors can include personal information errors (for example, your name could be spelled incorrectly or inaccurate addresses are listed for you) and signs of identity theft and fraud (for example, accounts that have been opened in your name that you didn’t authorize).

While you may be able to fix some errors on your credit report, some information can’t be changed.

Any information that is factual and accurate can’t be changed. For example, if you paid your car loan or credit card late, even if you paid off the amount owing or closed the account, the negative mark will still remain on your credit report for six or seven years, depending on the type of information and the province or territory where you live.

It can take a while for some negative information to fall off your credit report. The amount of time it takes to disappear depends on what type of information it is and the province or territory where you reside.

For the majority of negative information, it will appear for at most six or seven years on your credit report.

Watch out for firms that claim they can get rid of negative information from your credit report sooner than the six or seven years. These companies often charge a fee for their services and generally, it’s not possible for them to remove negative information before its expiry date.

How do you file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies?

If you find any errors on your credit report, you can file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies to get them corrected.

“Consumers have the right to dispute any information reported on their file. This could include anything from addresses and phone numbers to account information and judgments,” Blumberg says.

Disputing errors on your credit report is free. Before filing a dispute, make sure you gather all your supporting documentation, such as receipts, statements and anything else you can use to prove your case.

Once you’re ready to file your dispute, contact the credit reporting agencies that are reporting the error. Equifax and TransUnion both have forms you can complete for correcting errors and updating your personal information.

Before the agencies will make any changes to your credit report for credit history information, they’ll verify your dispute with the lender. If the lender confirms there’s an error, the credit reporting agency reporting the error will update your credit report.

However, if the bureaus disagree with your dispute, they may not update your report. For example, you could claim you have fully repaid your credit card balance, while it shows as unpaid with your lender. In this case, the bureau may require additional information or deny your request for change.

If you spot an error on your credit report, it’s important to file a dispute right away to get it corrected, especially if it could be affecting your score.

Errors can occur in personal information and credit history information. Take the steps needed to correct this information before applying for credit like a mortgage or car loan.

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