The credit bureaus are responsible for compiling lots of information into credit reports, for many different consumers. For this reason, they have been known to make mistakes on credit reports. The Federal Trade Commission decided to conduct an investigative study on consumer report errors; they found that five percent of consumers had errors in their report, and these errors could lead to them paying more on loans and for insurance (FTC study). It is not against the law for a credit reporting agency to accidentally include incorrect information in your credit report. The responsibility to make sure everything is correct lies in the hands of the consumers, (you).
However, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, (FCRA), does require that if a dispute is filed by a consumer the agency is required, free of charge, to conduct a reinvestigation, to determine the accuracy of the disputed information.
It is very important to stay organized, keep copies of all documents or forms, and log all communication with each of the credit bureaus during the dispute process. If you are filing a dispute with multiple agencies, make sure you keep a separate folder for each of the credit bureaus and dispute cases. The dispute process can be complicated and take a long time; so, make sure to start off organized. This will help you if the dispute ends up in court.
Three ways to Dispute
- Internet: You can dispute any errors in your credit report on the internet. All you need to do is click on the respective links to the credit reporting bureau you are filling your dispute with. According to the Federal Trade Commission website on Disputing Errors on Credit Reports, if the credit bureau that you submit your dispute with finds the information inaccurate, they must notify all of the other nationwide credit reporting companies. So, file a dispute with the credit reporting company that you most recently ordered a credit report from, or has the information error.
- TransUnion: (800)-916-8800
- Experian: Refer to the number on the credit report
- Equifax: 1(866)-3495191
- TransUnion: TransUnion LLC, Consumer Dispute Center, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016.
- Experian: Experian, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013.
- Instructions for disputing by mail
- Equifax: Equifax, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256.
What You Need for a Dispute
Once you have gone through your credit report and noted the errors. The first document that you will need to prepare when disputing your credit report is a letter, regardless of if you choose to dispute on the internet or by phone. The letter should clearly identify each of the items you are disputing, a copy of supporting documents and facts about the dispute, a request that it be removed or corrected, and attached a copy of the disputed report.
Send this letter via certified U.S. mail with a return receipt; keep a copy of the letter and mark the date of which it was received. This will create a paper trail of your dispute and ensure the credit reporting company received information about the dispute. Remember they have a 30-day time period to investigate this dispute. Listed below is a link to all sample dispute letters, (on our website), referenced in the flow chart along with an initial dispute letter posted on the Federal Trade Commission’s Website.\
- Sample Letter Initial Dispute
- Modified Dispute Letter
- Demand for Evidence and Dispute Letter
- Second Notice Letter
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
If after file the second notice letter to a credit bureau and you do not receive a timely response, around 10-days later. There are two steps that you can take. The first one is to speak with an attorney for a free consultation. The second is to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online application (CFPB). Follow the steps and select the options applicable to your case, this complaint will help place you in contact with the credit bureau if you are trying to avoid filing a lawsuit.