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How to dispute a mistake
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How to dispute a mistake

If you find a major mistake, order your credit report from all three bureaus to determine whether the problem is limited to just one report. The next thing to determine is whether you need to take up your dispute with the credit-reporting bureau or the lender.

If there's a case of mistaken identity, such as someone else's information on your report, or accounts listed that aren't familiar to you, contact the bureau. All three bureaus have online dispute forms, which Sweet says is a faster method of resolution than snail mail.

"Taking things up with the bureau is easier because they have one set process," says Bucci. "There's a dispute process in place so you can dispute any account with the same process, whereas when you contact the creditor, every one's a little different. It's not as neat and simple."

In the case of negative information more than 7 years old or a report of an outstanding balance that has actually been paid off, try contacting the lender directly.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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