Credit Report Errors — Fix Them before They Fix You

April 8th, 2013

So you’ve located an error on your credit report that’s costing you a few precious points on your credit score. It could be that the credit reporting agency confused you with a Jane Doe of the same name or a creditor failed to record a settled account.

Regardless of how it got there, there’s a mistake that needs fixing, or else you may suffer the consequences of higher interest loans or rejected credit and employment opportunities.

It will take some effort on your part to amend the problem. But, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the onus to repair your payment history ultimately rests with the credit bureau and the organization that reported the aforementioned offensive credit information.

Start by contacting all three credit bureaus in writing and explain what information you believe is inaccurate. A sample letter can be found at the Federal Trade Commission website. Include your full name and address, and clearly identify each item in your report under dispute. Include any supporting information or documentation. Ask that the errors be deleted or corrected, and be sure to include a copy of your report with those disputed items circled for reference.

Send the letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, to document the credit reporting agencies have received the claim. Credit bureaus must reinvestigate items in question within a reasonable period of time, typically defined as no more than 30 days. Credit bureaus will forward all relevant data to the information provider who will also re-investigate. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate or can no longer be verified, the consumer reporting agency must delete the information and notify the consumer.

When the reinvestigation is complete, the credit bureau must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change of information. Also, per your request, the credit bureau must send notices of corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. If the reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, insist that the dispute be included in your file and in future reports.

For more information on how to dispute credit report errors visit the FTC’s website.

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