How to Correct Errors on Your Credit Report

How To Get Errors On Your Credit Report

You’ve found an error on your credit report and you have a moment of panic, retracing and reviewing your credit history mentally. Unfortunately, credit report mistakes are not uncommon. But, here is what you can do to correct an error on your credit report.

1. Notify the credit reporting company. Fill out a dispute form or write a letter that explains the problem. The Federal Trade Commission offers this sample dispute letter for you to use.

2. Provide a copy of any documentation that supports your case. With every submission, be sure to include your complete name and address and keep copies of all of your dispute information and enclosures.

3. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so that you can document what the credit report company received and when.

4. Once you send your case materials, credit reporting companies must investigate the items in question, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. In addition, they must forward all relevant data you provided about the inaccuracy to the person or organization providing the information.

5. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the credit reporting company, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the credit reporting company.

6. If the information provider reviews the details and finds that your case is valid, credit report changes must be made immediately. At that point, all three nationwide credit reporting companies will be notified to correct the information in your file.

7. When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company is then required to provide you with the dispute results in writing and a free copy of your updated report, if the dispute resulted in a change to your credit report. This free report does not count as your annual free report. If the credit reporting company does fix the error, order another report in a few months to make sure the error stays fixed.

        a. If you ask, the credit reporting company must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
        b. If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the credit reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.

8. Lastly, inform the creditor or other information provider about your dispute. A creditor or any other information provider must be notified about your dispute. Send written notification about the conflict and include copies of documents to support your position, if possible. If you are correct—if the information is found to be inaccurate—the information provider is not permitted to report it again.

When negative information in your report is accurate, only time can assure its removal. A credit reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. There is no time limit on reporting: information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance.

Reviewing your credit report on an annual basis will help ensure its accuracy. You can order one free copy of your credit report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months. To get and keep a good credit score, read our credit score article here.

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