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How to dispute an error on your credit report

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An error on your credit reports can have long-term negative effects on your credit score. These errors may make it more difficult to get approved for the best credit cards or loans and impact how much interest you pay on them. However, you can dispute negative items on your credit report that are there in error and be on your way to a higher credit score relatively quickly. Here’s what you need to know about removing any errors on your credit reports.

Why is there an error on my credit report?

Checking your credit reports and finding an error can be a frightening experience, though it isn’t an uncommon one. The most recent study by the Federal Trade Commission found some 26 percent of participants spotted errors on at least one of their credit reports. You may be wondering how or why an error found its way onto your credit report. There are several reasons why an error may end up on your credit profile, varying from the more benign—a creditor that didn’t send updated info to the three credit bureaus, for example—to the severe, like fraudulent activity captured on your credit reports.

Some errors that could have a significant impact on your credit score include:

  • Incorrect balances on accounts
  • Derogatory marks that are older than seven years
  • Incorrect credit limits
  • Bills reported as late or delinquent when your account should be in good standing.

Errors on your credit reports that lead to lower credit scores can impact your approval odds for home loans, auto loans and credit cards. Even if you are approved, you’ll be burdened with higher interest rates. To be sure your credit reports are accurate, check them consistently and quickly dispute any errors.

In the past, the three credit bureaus provided one free credit report each year. Because of the financial impact the COVID-19  pandemic has had on many Americans, the three credit bureaus are offering weekly credit reports for free through April 2022. Be sure to take advantage of these resources to help you monitor your credit reports.

How to dispute an error on your credit report

The Federal Trade Commission provides guidelines on how to dispute errors on your credit reports. Successfully disputing an error will remove the item from your credit reports. You can do this by calling any of the three credit bureaus or writing a dispute letter. Each of the three credit bureaus also provides online options to dispute errors on their credit reports, as well. Here’s the information you need to initiate your dispute with each credit bureau:

How to dispute errors on your Experian credit report

  • Call Experian’s customer service line at 866-200-6020 to see if your dispute can be resolved by phone.
  • Write a dispute letter to Experian’s National Consumer Assistance Center and mail it to P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013.
  • Initiate a dispute online with Experian’s online dispute form.

How to dispute errors on your Equifax credit report

  • Call Equifax’s customer service line at 866-349-5191 to see if your dispute can be resolved by phone.
  • Write a dispute letter to Equifax’s customer service center and mail it to P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256.
  • Initiate a dispute online with Equifax’s online dispute form.

How to dispute errors on your TransUnion credit report

  • Call TransUnion’s customer service line at 800-916-8800 to see if your dispute can be resolved by phone. Be sure to have a copy of your TransUnion credit report nearby, as your TransUnion representative will need your file number to initiate your dispute.
  • Write a dispute letter to TransUnion’s Consumer Dispute Center and mail it to P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016.
  • Initiate a dispute online with TransUnion’s online dispute form.

How long does it take to remove a credit report error?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act limits the time a negative mark can remain on your credit report to seven years. After that time, the item will be removed from your report by the reporting bureau. The Fair Credit Reporting Act also requires that the three credit bureaus investigate and resolve a dispute within 30 days, although some investigations can take up to 45 days. The fastest and easiest way to initiate a dispute is to use the credit bureaus’ online systems.

The bottom line

Once you identify an error on your credit reports, it’s important to dispute it as soon as possible. Having items on your credit report erroneously can have long-lasting effects on your finances. While disputing an error on your credit reports can be time-consuming and difficult, the results—higher credit scores and lower interest rates—are definitely worth it.

Written by
Sarah Estime
Associate Writer
As a staff writer for Bankrate.com, Sarah offers sound advice that will improve your financial life and help simplify topics like travel hacking and credit card rewards.
Edited by
Editor