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How to Dispute An Item On Your Credit Report


I have seen estimates that say as many as 70% of credit reports contain inaccurate or downright false information. Do you know if yours is one of them?

A quick check of your credit report should tell you everything you need to know. It will also help you to catch any instances of identity theft.

If you do not monitor your credit reports regularly, you can still check them once a year for free by going to Annual Credit Report.com.

Any other sites or advertisements that you see do not actually let you check your reports for free. Only Annual Credit Report.com is the real deal.

So, you’ve checked your credit report and found bad information, what then? Let’s take a quick look at the dispute process:

Option One:

You can create an account with all three of the credit bureaus (websites below). All three have entire sections of their sites dedicated to helping you challenge this bad information on your credit report.

Here are the sites you will need to visit:

Once you log in with them, you can begin the automated process of challenging the information on your credit report.

I have actually been through the dispute process with all three of the credit bureaus via their online forms. I can tell you for certain that TransUnion has the best system – because I actually heard back from them after I made the challenges, and they did make the necessary changes. The other two credit bureaus (Equifax and Experian) I heard nothing back. Nada. Zero. Zip. No changes were made.

So, the next option for me was to send in a certified letter to Equifax and Experian. That got results.

Option Two:

Sending in a certified letter:

You will have to spend a little time getting everything together before you send your certified letter in to the credit bureaus.

You will need:

  1. A copy of your most recent credit report from each credit bureau.
  2. Make a copy of your credit report, and highlight any missing or incorrect information.
  3. You will also need to include various forms of identification like a utility bill in your name at your current address, your social security number, and a copy of your driver’s license.
  4. Gather up any supporting documents you will need. Things like canceled checks showing the credit account was paid in full, credit card statements, police reports (in case of identity theft), court documents or discharge papers (in case of a judgment or bankruptcy).
  5. Attach a cover letter to the information stating that you are disputing the highlighted items on your credit report.
  6. Send it certified mail so that you have a delivery receipt.

It’s a lot of trouble to go through, yes, but you could actually raise your credit score considerably just by taking the time to do this.

Your legal rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act:

Generally when a disputed item is “investigated” it means that the credit bureaus will contact the company or bank that listed the item on your credit report in the first place, and ask them to verify the debt, or status of the debt in question. If the company does not respond to the credit bureau within the thirty day time frame, then the information is removed from your credit report.

It is possible to challenge the same information more than once.

A word of caution: Challenging too many items on your credit report at the same time will cause the credit bureau to freeze your credit report temporarily (until your disputes are settled). If that happens, you will most likely not be able to get a loan during that period of time, because your prospective lenders will not be able to pull your credit report, or your credit score to make a decision on a loan.

People often run into trouble with this because they challenge a bunch of items, and then go apply for a car loan, or a credit card. So, just keep in mind that these disputes are going to tie up your credit report and score for about a month, and don’t apply for anything. If you do, you will not get the loan, and your credit score will drop slightly from the inquiry. Best to wait until everything is resolved, and then move forward with any new loans.

That’s pretty much it. The entire process is really very simple. There is no need, ever, to pay a company to do this for you unless you just really, really do not want to mess with it. Most companies that I have seen charge upwards of $50 a month to challenge items on your credit report for you!

If you want to take care of challenging the bad information on your credit reports yourself, you can click here to download a short, free guide which includes a sample letter of dispute, and the mailing addresses for all three credit bureaus.

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October 28, 2008 @ 8:16 pm

Mr. Credit Card,

I have two cards with 1st Premier Bank. One is paid in full, no balance due. The other is delinquent. 1st Premier has suspended usage privelleges on the acccount that is paid in full until the delinquent account is brought up to date. Is that lawful? Thanks.

November 10, 2008 @ 2:19 am

how long does a business have to submit a charge for payment…like can they hold a charge for 5 months

March 17, 2009 @ 4:08 am

I have an AMEX acct but for some reason on my Equifax report it shows two open accts. So i disputed the one with the wrong acct#. Well im currently away for buisness but i noticed my credit score drop significantly just on that report and it stayed the same score for 2 months now, help please its almost 100points less than my other scores.

December 13, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

If collection agencies have 30 days to verify negative information on a credit report which subsequently leads to its removal if they do not respond within that time frame, what is to stop them ‘buying time’ by immediately posting the same information with the next credit bureau, which a consumer would have to challenge – another 30 days would pass and then they place it with the third agency, which again the consumer has to challenge.

If collection agencies are unable to verify negative information during the first 30 days, what is to stop them verifying it during the second 30 day period when they have reported to the next agency. Isn’t this unfair on the consumer?

Can the outcome of one investigation with one bureau be passed to the others?

July 13, 2010 @ 8:07 am

I need help with an issue. My mother and brother used my social sercurity to purchased a car and some items from Walmart, along with addresses I never live at before. How do I to the bottom of this.

November 12, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

all of the items on my credit report are from medical bills while i was under my parents insurance and still in school is there anything i can do about this to fix my credit it is making it so that i cannot even get an apartment in the area i live in and i cannot afford to pay these debts what are my options?

March 3, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s. It works well, but isn’t as fast as Safari, and has a clunkier interface. If you occasionally plan on using the web browser that’s not an issue, but if you’re planning to browse the web alot from your PMP then the iPod’s larger screen and better browser may be important.


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