Your credit scores may be lower than they should be due to errors in your credit reports. It may impact your ability to get a loan or credit card and the interest rate you will be charged.
An easy way to raise your credit score is to dispute any inaccuracies and clear those negative or inaccurate entries by sending a letter requesting to remove inaccurate information from your credit report.
Your purchasing power, chances of landing a job, renting or purchasing a home, and ability to buy insurance may all be impacted by the information in your credit report. Credit reporting agencies sell your report's contents to companies that use it to decide whether to lend you money, extend credit, provide insurance, or let you rent a house. Managers in different companies sometimes check credit reports before they hire a new employee.
Regularly reviewing your credit report will help you find credit report errors. Each of the three main credit reporting (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) must give you a copy of a free credit report once per calendar year. You may also visit AnnualCreditReport.com to obtain your free credit reports.
Everyone in the United States can access a free credit report weekly from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at AnnualCreditReport.com through December 2023. Additionally, through 2026, anyone in the US can access six free credit reports annually by visiting the Equifax website or dialing 1-866-349-5191.
Do whatever it takes to stop any inaccurate or incomplete information from being reported to your credit bureau.
Your ability to borrow money and the cost depend on your report's accuracy. Additionally, credit report errors can make buying insurance, getting a job, or owning a house more difficult. Therefore, finding and removing inaccurate or incomplete information from your credit report is necessary.
It's also a good idea to check your credit record to look for signs of identity theft. That occurs when someone makes unauthorized use of your data, such as your name, address, credit card or bank account details, Social Security number, or health insurance account numbers.
They might use your credit cards to make purchases, acquire new credit cards, start gas, electricity, or phone accounts in your name, pocket your tax refund, or receive medical care using your health insurance. This is why Identity theft is harmful to your credit profile, and filing a dispute with the credit reporting companies is necessary.
The account is then listed as unpaid and late on your credit report when they don't pay the bills. Such inaccurate information can appear on your credit record and impact your ability to obtain credit, insurance, or even employment.
Visit IdentityTheft.gov to file a report and receive a customized recovery plan if you believe someone may be utilizing your personal information.
It's crucial first to determine whether you are the one who made the error. A person frequently applies for credit under multiple names (such as Jason Todd and Billy Todd, Bill, William, Teddy Briggs, etc.). If you are inconsistent and consistently use different first names and middle initials, your credit report may include details about someone else with the same name. Apply the same name and initials to avoid any confusion. Also, add details like your address and Social Security number.
It's possible that your credit file doesn't accurately reflect all of your credit accounts if you were denied credit due to an "insufficient credit file" or "no credit file." Although most banks and national department store credit card accounts will be included in your file, not all creditors are keen to report consumer credit information to credit bureaus or share information with them voluntarily.
Ask your creditors to start reporting your credit information to major credit bureaus if you discover any missing accounts, or you may want to move your account to a different creditor who does so regularly.
To dispute credit report errors, you should contest the information with the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) if you find an inaccuracy in your credit reports. You should attach copies of the documents supporting your contention and a written explanation of what you believe to be incorrect and why.
To initiate the dispute process, you may send a credit dispute letter, and it should contain the information below:
To have proof that your letter was received, you can decide to submit your letter of dispute to the three major credit bureaus via certified mail and request a return receipt. The major credit reporting agencies can be contacted by phone, email, or postal mail.
The contact details of the three credit bureaus:
Dispute online: www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-dispute/
Mail: Use the address given below:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30348
Phone: Phone number provided on credit report or (866) 349-5191
Dispute online: www.experian.com/disputes/main.html
Mail: Use the address given below:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Phone: Phone number provided on credit report or (888) 397-3742
Dispute filing: https://dispute.transunion.com
Mail: Use the address given below:
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Phone: (800) 916-8800
Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.
Regardless of how you reported an error on your credit record, the credit bureau takes 30-45 days to look into it and respond. The credit bureau must inform you and explain their reasoning if they stop looking into your request because they believe it to be "frivolous" or "irrelevant."
For instance, you might have to provide them with further proof to back up your requests. The entity that reported the information will also receive all the evidence you provided from the credit bureau. The entity must investigate and inform the credit bureau of the findings.
As per the Fair credit reporting Act - "Companies that provide information to consumer reporting agencies also have specific legal obligations, including the duty to investigate the disputed information."
The company must alert all three major credit bureaus if it discovers that the information it provided was incorrect so that the data in your file can be updated. If the dispute results in a change, the credit reporting company must provide you with a free copy of your credit report and the written results.
The credit bureau should provide this information with your request:
When the credit reporting company fixes an error on your credit record, your score frequently increases. However, in some cases, to dispute credit report information, you have to do more than update or correct your credit report.
It's a common misconception that canceling credit card accounts will raise your rating, and that is a false statement. Closing an account won't get it off your credit report or stop the payment history from being shown and taken into account when calculating your FICO Score.
It's possible that removing incomplete or incorrect information/disputed items from your credit report won't have the effect you anticipate on your FICO Score. There might still be some unfavorable data that will prevent your FICO Score from rising immediately.
FICO Scores only take into account your credit record data related to credit. The credit information on your report won't get affected by changes to your personal information (correct address or wrong address, complete name, SSN, employer, date of birth, etc.). The FICO Score considers at least one error related to only public record, collection, and credit account information.
You can request a description of the dispute information on your credit record that should be published in your file and any subsequent reports. Additionally, you can request that the credit bureau send your statement to everyone who recently obtained a copy of your report. It may charge you a fee from the credit bureau.
The dispute process can take a bit of time, especially if you have a history of making credit mistakes or experienced identity theft. Professional credit repair companies might help you in this case. Credit repair services might guide you to dispute inaccurate negative information and negotiate with creditors.
However, if you need help from a credit repair agency, make sure they follow The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), which regulates the operations of credit repair agencies.