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How to dispute a credit report

It’s frustrating to find errors on your credit reports — and important to dispute. Incorrect information can impact your credit score, interest rates, and access to credit.

You can challenge and correct these mistakes. Read on to learn how to dispute a credit report.

What is a credit report?

credit report is like a statement of your payment history — loans, credit cards, and similar data. It’s also how a lender gets to know you. Lenders want to work with borrowers they see as trustworthy. Inaccuracies and errors on your reports can unfairly damage a lender’s view of you. The 3 major credit bureaus providing these reports are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Best way to clean up a credit report

There are 3 steps to cleaning up mistakes on your credit report:  

  1. Request your free credit reports
  2. Review all the information
  3. Dispute any inaccuracies

3 things to look for when reviewing your credit report

Reviewing a credit report can seem overwhelming. To help you spot potential errors, here are 3 things to look for.

1. Identifying information

  • Is your personal information listed correctly — i.e. name, phone number, address, employment history, and Social Security Number?
  • Do you see any accounts belonging to another person with the same or a similar name as yours?

2. Status of accounts

  • Do you have closed accounts reported as open?
  • Do you see any accounts incorrectly labeled as late?
  • Are you showing up as the owner of any accounts where you are actually just an authorized user?
  • Are there any bankruptcies, civil suits, or judgments listed that you weren’t part of?
  • Do you see any accounts you don’t recognize?

3. Inaccurate account info

  • Are your current balances correct?
  • Is your payment history represented accurately?
  • Do your accounts show the correct credit limits?
  • Are key dates correctly recorded (last payment, account opening, first delinquency, etc.)?
  • Is the same debt listed twice — under a different name or from two different creditors, such as in the case of collections or a loan that’s been sold from one lender to another institution?
  • Are any other Social Security Numbers linked to your account?
  • Are there any credit inquiries you didn’t authorize? This may point to identity theft.

How do you dispute something on your credit report?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends you contact the credit bureau showing the inaccurate report. You’ll need to provide your contact information and a written explanation of the error. Also include why you believe the information is wrong. Gather documentation that supports your dispute, like account numbers, dates, and billing statements.

5 steps to dispute a credit report

  1. Submit to the credit bureau by letter, phone, or online
  2. Contact the source of the error, if needed
  3. Wait for the investigation to finish and respond to you
  4. Review the investigation results
  5. Verify updates and corrections were made to your credit report

Credit report dispute tips

  • Streamline your effort with the CFPB’s sample letter and dispute form
  • Send copies and keep any originals
  • Include a copy of government-issued ID
  • Include a copy of a utility, bank, or insurance statement
  • Disputing multiple errors in one claim may increase processing time
  • You can’t remove negative information from a credit report if it is correct

How do I dispute all three credit bureaus?

You’ll have to reach out to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion separately. Here’s how to reach them online, by mail, and by phone.


Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
(Include this Equifax Dispute Form)


P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013


TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
(Include this TransUnion Dispute Form)

What happens after I file a dispute?

Credit bureaus investigate every dispute they receive. While timelines can vary, the bureaus typically work to resolve disputes within 30 to 45 days. During the investigation, the credit bureau may dig deeper into where the vendor got the information you are disputing. They’ll notify you of the results of the dispute, likely in the format in which you filed.

Disputes result in one of 3 outcomes. The disputed information will either be modified, deleted, or remain unchanged. It would remain unchanged if the dispute investigation found the information correct.

If your credit dispute is denied

If the disputed information remains, you can take an additional step. Ask for a statement of your dispute to be included on your credit report. This lets lenders know you challenged the information.

What is the most effective way to dispute a credit report?

There are many factors that play into the effectiveness of disputes. The most important is to provide complete, accurate information with your disputes.

For sheer efficiency, the fastest way to file a dispute with a credit bureau is online. Online portals can also be a more secure option than sending information via snail mail.

Is it worth the effort to clean up my credit report?

Yes. Cleaning up errors on your credit reports can be time-consuming, but it’s a key part of living well financially. And it helps lenders view you as a trustworthy potential borrower.

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Numerica is with you every step of the way when it comes to battling fraud and keeping your accounts secure. Visit our library of fraud and security resources for more articles to help keep you safe.

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June 22, 2024