Disputing Your Credit Report
Your credit report contains information about where you work, where you live, how you pay your bills, whether you've been sued or arrested, and if you have ever filed for bankruptcy. Companies called consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), or credit bureaus, compile and sell your credit report to businesses. Because businesses use this information to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, and other purposes allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), it's important that the information in your report is complete and accurate.
Both the credit reporting agency and the organization that provided the information to the CRA, such as a bank or credit card company, are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your credit report. To correct errors in your report, take the following steps.
Tell the credit reporting agency, in writing, the information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies of documents that support your position. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the CRA received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures. In your letter:
- Include your complete name and address.
- Clearly identify each item you dispute.
- State the facts and explain why you dispute the information.
- Request deletion or correction.
- Enclose a copy of the report with the disputed items circled.
Here is an example of a Sample Dispute Letter.
CRAs must re-investigate the items in question and forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate, review all relevant information provided by the CRA, and report the results to the CRA. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs so they can correct this information in your file.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act:
- Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.
- If your report contains erroneous information, the CRA must correct it.
- If an item is incomplete, the CRA must complete it.
- If your file shows an account that belongs only to another person, the CRA must delete it.
When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change.
If you request it, the CRA is required to send notices of corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months.
In addition to writing to the CRA, tell the creditor or other information provider, in writing, that you dispute an item. Include copies of documents that support your position. Many information providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider then reports the item to any CRA, it must include a notice of your dispute.
– Information provided by the Federal Trade Commission. For more information on disputing credit reports, call 202-FTC-HELP, or go to www.ftc.gov.
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