Your Guide to Disputing a Credit Report Error

Learn how to contact the credit bureaus, file a dispute, and stay organized throughout the process. Stay informed and empowered with our expert advice.

Keeping a close eye on your credit report can prevent false information from negatively affecting your credit score.

One of the keys to having healthy credit is making sure your credit report only contains correct information.

Checking what is on your credit report annually is essential, as this will ultimately affect your ability to take out auto and personal loans, mortgages and other forms of credit. Checking your credit report also helps you detect signs of identity theft.

If you find an error on your credit report, you will need to dispute the error with the agency reporting the error and the company that reported it to the credit reporting agency.

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Get Copies of Your Credit Reports

The first step to checking your credit report is to get a copy of it.

There are several ways to do this with the big-three credit reporting companies.

You Are Entitled to a Free Credit Report

Federal law requires the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies to provide consumers with a free credit report annually. This allows you to request a free copy of your credit report once a year from each credit reporting company, which can help you make sure the information reported on your credit report is accurate and up to date.

An important distinction is that your annual credit report does not mean you also get your credit score. is a helpful website to obtain a free credit report, and they are the only website federally authorized to provide your annual credit report. They pull your credit report information from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies.

You can get your annual credit report from in three easy steps:

  • Fill out the request form on their website. 
  • Choose which reports you would like, your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. You can only get one credit report from each request. You will have to repeat the whole process if you would like to request another report. 
  • Answer security questions to ensure nobody else can obtain your credit report. 
  • Receive your credit report.

Three agencies report credit histories and scores: Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Once every 12 months, you can get a free credit score from these three agencies. There may be fees associated with obtaining a credit report from these sources if you do it more than once in 12 months.

Steps to Looking for Errors on Your Credit Report

Your credit report might have errors. These errors can be minor, like an old address, or significant enough to harm your credit score.

Knowing what to look for in your credit report will help you catch these errors. An excellent way to check that the information on your credit report is correct is to cross-reference other records, like old bills and documents, with accurate information.

Here are some things to look for when checking your credit report for errors.

Incorrect Personal Information

Look over each credit report to ensure that the correct name, address, phone number, etc., is accurate on every report. These are minor errors, but this could result in information from an account that belongs to someone with a similar or the same name as yours being reported on your credit report or documents not being sent to the correct address.

Incorrect Account Being Reported

Knowing what accounts should be reported on your credit report is an error that can occur. This can be information from accounts that do not belong to you, whether from someone with the same or similar name or from a family member’s account. These can also occur from companies reporting accounts with similar or identical account numbers as yours, resulting in false information being reported.

Incorrect Account Status

This can occur when the company responsible for reporting your credit history, like credit card and loan companies, incorrectly reports the status of your account. Mistakes in this category include:

  • Reporting that an account is still open even though the account has been closed 
  • Reporting you as owning the account but you are only an authorized user 
  • Reporting incorrect dates of payments, especially the last date or the date that the accounts were opened and closed on

This error category is broad and can encompass most of the issues with a credit report.

Incorrect Delinquencies or Late Payments Being Reported

This credit report error category can be the most negatively impactful on your credit score. 

A delinquency on a credit report is when a debt payment is 30 or more days late. When this happens, the creditor will report the delinquency to one or more credit bureaus. 

Failure to make payments on time and to the full amount of the required payment will negatively affect your credit score, making it more difficult to be approved for loans and other lines of credit.

The Dates of Payments, Delinquencies, and Loans, Are Incorrect

Ensure the dates of every entry on your credit report are correctly dated. You will want to cross reference other documents, like bills and payments that you made to the appropriate agency. 

This may not seem that important, but keeping your credit record up to date can improve the likelihood that you are approved for a loan or various other lines of credit.

Same Debt Listed More Than Once

Sometimes agencies that are responsible for reporting items on your credit report can incorrectly report the same debt twice. It may not always be apparent that the same debt is listed more than once, as they may appear with different names on your credit report. 

Check the amount of each debt, make sure that there are no debts that are the same amount, and cross reference other documentation that you have.

Delinquencies Are Too Old to be Reported

Most delinquencies and other negative information on credit reports are erased after seven years, meaning they are removed from your record. Information regarding lawsuits or other legal judgments that would negatively affect your credit score are listed on your report for seven years or as long as the statute of limitations, whichever is the longest time. 

Bankruptcies typically last longer, about 10 years. Make sure that no out-of-date information is listed on your credit report that could negatively affect your credit score.

An Ex-spouse Is Incorrectly Listed on a Loan or Credit Card

Balance errors are important to correct because they can misrepresent how much money a lender has been willing to allow you to borrow. 

Credit limits can also indicate that a credit card company did not trust you enough to set a high enough credit limit. These can dissuade a future lender or credit card company from lending larger loans and allowing higher credit limits.

Consider a Personal Loan to Clean Up Your Credit

If you’re having trouble making all your debt payments and it’s showing on your credit report, you may be able to consolidate your debt into one lower-interest, lower-payment debt consolidation loan.

Though there are a large number of lenders that offer debt consolidation and credit card payoff loans, some lenders offer better deals than others.

Check out these lenders to find the best loan for debt consolidation.

What to Do If You Find Errors

Your creditors may not report all information to every agency, so you need to cross-check information on all reports. If you find incorrect information on your credit report, you’ll first gather proof that it is false.

Even if you are unsure if certain documentation is valuable, include it when reporting incorrect information on your credit report. While some types of documentation and proof may not be enough to prove, they certainly can help add credibility to your case.

Late Payments

If a delinquency is reported that you have not paid a loan or credit card bill in time, find receipts for that payment. This could be a receipt from the company you paid money to or proof from your bank that you used a credit or debit card to pay.

Copies of credit card statements or loan documents can help to verify the status of your accounts, open or closed, and can prove that you have no delinquencies and have maintained your payments. Copies of bank statements can prove that you’ve made payments on accounts and can disprove delinquencies.

Closed Accounts

If there is false information about account status, collect documentation that proves that your account is open or closed.

This can be a letter from the company that your account is with saying that your account is opened or closed. For addresses, you will want to provide utility bills or similar bills showing your name and address.

Wrong Address

To prove that you have never lived somewhere, try to find documentation dated from when this error is shown that lists your actual address. You can see evidence of your address through public and government records like driver’s licenses, real estate and property records, voter records, criminal and civil filings, or vehicle titles or loan records that can provide your address at the given period in question.

Not Your Debt

Copies of birth or death certificates or a divorce decree can correct information about individuals that should or shouldn’t be on your account.

If you’ve reported identity theft, a copy of your FTC complaint, any police reports you have made, or other legal documents can prove that information on your report does not belong on it.

Contact the Credit Reporting Agency

When disputing an entry on your credit report, you’ll be responsible for providing general personal information and proof of that information.

This includes proof of identity, including your Social Security number, date of birth, and a copy of your driver’s license, passport, or another form of government identification.

You’ll need to provide your current and past addresses for two years. You can do this with a copy of a utility bill, bank statements, or insurance statements and documents.

There are generally three ways you can dispute information on your credit report with each credit reporting agency:

  • Online form on their websites
  • Physical letter sent via mail
  • Phone call

You’ll be required to detail what the error on your credit report is and why it is an error. Include all of the documentation you are providing as proof of the error.

What to Include

  • Your information, e.g., your full government name, address, phone number, and email
  • The report identification or confirmation number on the original credit report
  • The error that you are disputing and why you are disputing it. Explain why the entry on the report is considered an error
  • Explain if the error should be correct or outright removed
  • Provide a copy of your credit report with the error being clearly identified

Contact the agency dispute centers below:

Equifax Online Dispute

Equifax Information Services LLC

P.O. Box 740256

 Atlanta, GA 30348

Phone: (866) 349-5191

Experian Online Dispute

TransUnion LLC

Consumer Dispute Center

P.O. Box 2000

Chester, PA 19016

Phone: (888) 397-3742

TransUnion Online Dispute 

Consumer Dispute Center

P.O. Box 2000

Chester, PA 19016

Phone: (800) 916-8800

How to Follow Up on Your Claim

Once you have contacted the credit bureaus and filed your dispute, staying organized and keeping track of your progress is essential.

This means keeping copies of all correspondence and documentation related to your dispute. Regularly checking your credit report to see if any changes have been made is also a good idea.

If the credit bureaus do not respond within the required 30-day time frame, you may need to follow up with a second letter. If your dispute is successful, be sure to verify that the corrections have been made and that the issue has been resolved.

Remember to remain patient and persistent throughout the process.

What If the Credit Reporting Agency Won’t Remove the Information?

Sometimes, in spite of all your hard work, the credit reporting agency will refuse to remove the incorrect information on your account. This could be because they don’t have enough proof that it’s not true. In that case, you’ll need to contact the company reporting the false information and ask them to have it removed.

Disputing incorrect information with a company that is reporting it to credit bureaus includes many of the same steps followed when contacting the credit bureaus.

Gather Evidence

Collect any documentation or evidence you have that proves the information being reported is inaccurate.

Send a Dispute Letter

Draft a dispute letter explaining the incorrect information and include any relevant evidence. You can send this by email or postal mail. If you sent it via postal mail, get a receipt proving you sent it.

Wait for a Response

The company has 30 days to respond to your dispute. Keep track of when you sent your response so you’ll be sure to follow up.

Follow Up

If you haven’t heard anything after 30 days, follow up with the company to make sure they received your dispute.

Review the Response

If the company agrees that the information is incorrect, they should provide a correction. If they don’t agree, they should explain why.

Escalate the Dispute

If you are not happy with the response from the company, you can escalate the dispute by seeking legal advice or filing a complaint with a regulatory authority, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).