Your credit report affects many different facets of your life, which is why we work so hard to keep our credit reports accurate.
Yet it’s not uncommon for consumers to find errors on their credit report through no fault of their own. The Federal Trade Commission has conducted studies finding that most consumers who previously reported an unresolved error on one of their credit reports from Transunion, Experian or Equifax, believe that at least one piece of disputed information is still inaccurate.
The best way to correct credit reporting errors is to send a written credit dispute letter to the credit bureau. The credit bureaus refer to this letter as a Request to Reinvestigate.
What is a credit dispute letter?
When addressing issues with your credit reports, it is important for you to obtain a current credit report directly from each bureau – Transunion, Experian and Equifax. Some creditors may not report to all three bureaus, so you need to see which bureaus list a certain credit obligation and if that information is accurate.
Like the name suggests, a credit dispute letter is a letter you send to the credit bureaus to note errors on your credit report and to ask that the information be corrected, updated or removed.
The credit report dispute letter should clearly state why you think the listing is inaccurate and provide an explanation of the action you believe the credit bureau should take. Your dispute correspondence should include documents that support your claim. Copies of dispute correspondence should be kept for your records.
What do I need to put in my credit dispute letter?
When putting together a credit report dispute letter, you’ll first need to identify the report listing the incorrect information. Each credit report you obtain will have a report number and the date it was issued. Your letter must provide information about the error and why you’re disputing it. Also, it should state a request to correct, update or remove the item.
Your credit report dispute letter checklist:
- Your name, contact info, account number, social security number and birthdate
- A scanned copy of a government ID such as a driver’s license or a bill or document that shows your name and address
- The credit bureau’s contact information
- Credit report number and date
- A description of the error
- A copy of your current report with the error clearly marked or highlighted
- Any documents that can back up your case, like payment records, correspondence from the creditor or court documents. You should mention in the letter that these items are attached.
- Instructions on what you’d like them to do (correct, update or remove the error)
What happens next?
The credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to your written dispute. If the bureau responds favorably, your report will be updated and inaccurate information removed.
Sometimes, requests may not be honored. The credit bureaus may ask for more information, or they may reject your claim. If so, you need to send another dispute to the credit bureau restating the problem. It may take several disputes to rectify the situation. Be sure to keep copies of all letters sent and received from the credit bureaus. This paper trail can be useful in evaluating whether there has been a violation to your consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Steps to Take for an Effective Dispute
It’s important to file a dispute with credit bureaus when an error appears on your report. But that dispute needs to be done effectively, which means, in writing and sent by US Mail. Follow these steps for an effective dispute.
- Get current credit reports from the three credit bureaus before applying for new credit, or once you become aware of an error. You are entitled to obtain a free report every twelve months from Transunion, Experian and Equifax.
- Send a written dispute by certified mail, return receipt to Transunion, Experian and/or Equifax.
A letter will allow you to explain the error effectively and then, provide supporting documents. Be aware that online disputes have length limitations and may not allow for a full explanation of the error.
- Enclose a copy of your current credit report highlighting the disputed item to easily identify the error.
- Provide documentation that supports your claim and illustrates why the error needs to be corrected.
- Clearly state the action you would like the credit bureau to take – correct, update or remove.
- Keep a complete copy of each dispute letter sent and response from the credit bureau.
Seek Legal Advice from a Qualified Consumer Lawyer
When the credit bureaus do not correct errors on your credit report, you may need the help of a qualified consumer protection lawyer.
The attorneys at Flitter Milz have worked with consumers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, suing credit bureaus and credit furnishers that continue to list inaccurate information on credit reports. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation to evaluate whether your consumer rights have been violated.