How to Dispute A Credit Report Mistake
Although you can’t remove negative information from your credit report, you do have the right to dispute anything on your report that you think is incorrect. And if you’re proven to be right, that erroneous information can be fixed or erased.
In this post, we’ll explain how you can dispute credit report mistakes, so that you can protect your business and ensure that you are in good financial standing.
3 Tips for Disputing Information on Your Credit Report:
1. How to Identify Incorrect Information on a Credit Report
Each year, you can get one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). And it’s easier than you think – all three companies share one website, annualcreditreport.com, to provide yearly reports as mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). You can get monthly updates from certain credit cards, but official reports come from these three main bureaus. Whether you’re checking your personal or business credit, you should use all three bureaus to get one credit report every four months.
If you notice incorrect information, it’s important to act on it right away. Negative marks on a credit report can severely hamper your access to financial products, regardless of if the mark was made in error or not. After you notice a mistake, you’ll have to take two steps:
- Notify the credit reporting bureau
- Notify the credit provider
In both cases, you’ll need plenty of documentation. The credit bureaus have online portals for managing disputes, but a formal letter is better to help explain the situation.
2. How to Notify a Credit Bureau
When you write a letter to a credit bureau about incorrect information on your report, make sure you document everything. Make copies of any statements that are relevant this dispute and include a copy of your credit report with the mistake highlighted. In addition, don’t send original documents with your letter, as you may need them in the future.
Be sure to explain clearly why the mistake is erroneous; the more evidence you can provide, the better your chances of a quick answer. The credit bureau is required by law to investigate and make a report within 30 days, but this can take an additional two weeks if corresponding by mail.
If the bureau investigation turns up nothing on your behalf, you can ask for a note of the dispute to be made on your report.
3. How to Notify a Credit Provider
If you can’t find a resolution with the credit reporting bureau, contact your credit provider and ask them to make note of the error. Your credit provider is the company that gave you the financial product that’s responsible for the potential mistake. This could be a credit card company, student loan servicer, or bank. Send them a certified letter (just like sent the credit bureau) explaining the mistake with copies of pertinent documents. When the provider next reports to the credit bureaus, they’ll have to note the disputed account. And if the information is found to be incorrect, the company MUST report its findings and any corrections to the credit bureaus immediately.
Credit report errors can be damaging when it’s time to apply for a business loan or credit card. Getting denied is difficult enough but imagine getting rejected over some other firm’s mistake. Take advantage of the free reports offered by the major bureaus and monitor your score frequently. Also, keep this FTC sample dispute letter bookmarked in case you need to challenge a mistake. Credit report errors can be easy to fix if you’re prepared and have the right paperwork.
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