Finding an error
This is going to sound obvious but you’ll first need to find an error before it can be corrected. It’s easy to be complacent about certain tasks that we know we need to do but don’t especially want to do.
Do yourself a solid and make sure you’re not just skimming your report for things like late payments. Instead, really take a minute to double check that each section of your report is complete and accurate. That means there is no extra information that doesn’t pertain to you; names, addresses, and such are spelled properly; no ex-spouse information is included; payment amounts are right; and unpaid debts older than 7 years no longer appear.
If you find an error on one report, the next thing you’ll want to do is pull your other reports and check those for the same error as well. If you’ve already used up your free reports via AnnualCreditReport.com, you can request an additional report directly from each credit bureau for a nominal price – around $15.
Through the end of 2022, you can check your reports as often as weekly through each of the 3 credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com
How to fix errors on your credit report
Gather your documents
Once you determine that there is an error to be corrected, you’ll want to begin gathering documents to validate your claim. That means that you need to gather and make copies of any documents that show either 1) the error itself or 2) how you know it is an error. Make sure that you track the dispute process from start to finish.
Depending on what you’re disputing, this will include the credit report you discovered the error on, as well as credit card or bank statements, receipts, etc. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for the credit bureau to validate your dispute. The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for them to find in your favor.
For example, if your report is incorrectly showing a late payment, find the bank statement that shows the payment was made on time. Circle it so the evidence you’re providing is clear and unmistakable.
Contact the reporting bureau
Next, you’ll notify the credit bureau(s) about the error. You can do so either through their individual online portals, via telephone, or in writing, telling them exactly what information you believe is incorrect. If you choose to provide information by mail, you can draft a letter of your own or you can use this sample letter from the FTC. Mail it as a certified letter with return receipt requested so you can document that what you sent was actually received.
The credit bureaus don’t communicate with each other so if you have one or more errors on one or more reports, you’ll need to send a dispute letter to each of the relevant credit bureaus that are reporting misinformation.
You’ll want to include the following information:
- Your full name, address and phone number
- Each item in your report that you’re disputing, clearly identified (i.e. by account number)
- A statement about why you’re disputing the error
- A request for the error to be removed or corrected
In addition, you should include in your mailing:
- A copy of the credit report showing the error
- Copies of any evidence that supports your claim
Again, keep copies of everything that you send and anything that you receive.