Removing inaccurate or incorrect information on your credit report
Your credit report contains important information about where you live, how you pay your bills and financial account information that potential lenders, employers, or leasing agents and others will often utilize to evaluate your applications to work with them.
It is important to regularly pull and review your credit report for inaccurate information for several reasons:
- Your credit report will have a heavy impact on your credit score
- The information contained in your credit report will be used by potential lenders to determine whether or not you can get a loan as well as your interest rate and repayment periods for that loan
- Employers may also use the information on your credit report when evaluating you for a new position
- Regular checks of your credit report allow you to quickly identify, stop and repair identify theft
The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act allows individuals to pull their credit reports for free once annually from each of the three credit reporting companies.
The three nationwide credit report companies provide a free copy of your credit report through Annualcreditreport.com and also by phone and mail requests.
Correcting Credit Reporting Errors:
What happens if you pull your free credit report and you notice incorrect information?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting company and the information provider (the person, company, or organization that provides information to the credit reporting companies) are required to correct inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report, but that process cannot take place until you have properly disputed incorrect claims.
Step 1: Reporting
Inform the credit reporting agency, in writing, what information you believe to be incorrect. You’ll want your request to be professional and complete to ensure your matter is handled in the same manner. The Federal Trade Commission provides a templet for error reporting/dispute letters that you may find helpful: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0384-sample-letter-disputing-errors-your-credit-report
Your dispute letter should clearly identify each item in your credit report that you dispute as well as why you dispute the claim and facts that support your dispute and a request to have the information reviewed and removed or corrected. You will also want to include copies (not originals) of any documentation supporting your dispute. We also suggest including a copy of your full credit report with the disputed information clearly indicated; and if possible, you’ll want to send your letter through certified mail so that you will receive notice of your letter’s delivery.
Don’t forget to keep a copy of your dispute letter as well as the documents supporting your claim and the certified mail receipt so you have an accurate timeline of events.
Step 2: Waiting
The credit reporting agencies are required to investigate properly-submitted dispute claims in a timely manner. The three reporting agencies –Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion– claim a 30 or so day turnaround on disputes.
The credit reporting agency is require to send a copy of your dispute, supporting documents, and their findings to the organization, group or individual information provider of the contested information so that they may also conduct an investigation and report their findings. Once the information provider has conducted their own investigation into your dispute they must send a copy of their findings to the credit reporting company for review.
If the information provider find that your dispute is valid and that the inaccurate information must be corrected or removed, they must notify all three credit reporting agencies so they can correct your records.
Step 3: Reviewing Your Credit Report Dispute Report
Once the credit agency has completed their investigation into your dispute and the information provider’s report, they will supply you with the results of their findings in writing as well as a free copy of your credit report if the dispute resulted in a change. If the investigation shows evidence that your dispute is valid then the incorrect information will no longer appear on your credit report.
Any information that has been removed as a result of a consumer dispute cannot be re-added to your credit report without verification from an information provider (creditor, bank, etc.). In the event that an information provider does request to re-add information, the reporting agency is required to send you written notice of that request with that information provider’s name, address, and phone number.
You may request corrected copies of your credit report be sent to anyone who has received your report within the last six months (any institution) or past two years (for employment purposes) and the reporting agency will send them notice at no charge to you.
What if the credit reporting agency does not remove the contested information?
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 can also ask the credit reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your credit report within the past 6 months.