Here’s what you need to know to remove inaccuracies from your credit report.

3 minute read

Is erroneous or incomplete information on your credit report holding you back from attaining a good credit score? If so, you’re not the only one. About 1 in 5 people are in the same credit-rocking boat, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission.

The good news is, you can probably fix errors on your credit report fairly easily once you know how to go about getting the businesses or banks that reported inaccurate or incomplete information to correct it.

Learn how to dispute errors and correct information on your credit report below.

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1. Obtain a free copy of your credit report

First things first. Request a free copy of your credit report from all three major credit reporting bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com, verifying that your name, address, phone number, and all account information are correct.

Find out: What’s the Fastest Way Possible to Improve My Credit Score?

2. Take a closer look

Review your credit report closely, looking especially for accounts for another person under a different but similar name. Look for closed or paid in full accounts that may still appear as open, accounts reported incorrectly as delinquent, incorrect payment dates and the same debt listed more than once.

Intimidated by all those accounts, dates and terms? Use this checklist from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to make finding errors easier. If you notice mistakes or missing information, get started on the process of getting that information removed or corrected.

Find out: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Improve Bad Credit

3. Send a dispute letter to the credit bureau

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends contacting both the credit reporting agency that received the information and the furnisher of the information, a bank or credit card company, for example.

To dispute an error with the credit reporting agency, go online at each credit bureau reporting the information – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion – to verify your identity and submit your dispute.

Find out: Why Can’t I Get My Identity Verification With a Credit Bureau?

4. Send a dispute letter to the furnisher

Banks and companies that report information to credit reporting bureaus are called furnishers. Even if you’ve reported the error to the credit reporting agency, send the furnisher a dispute letter asking it to correct the information with the reporting bureau as well.

There’s no need to let your letter-writing insecurities get in the way, either. Use one of these CFPB sample letters to dispute information the furnisher provided to a credit reporting agency.

Find out: How to Get Negative Items Off Your Credit Report

5. Allow the proper response time

Credit reporting bureaus have up to 30 days to investigate and respond to your dispute. Once the credit agency completes its investigation, it must report the results back to you within five days.

If you dispute the information with the furnisher too, that company also has up to 30 days to investigate. However, if the furnisher determines that the information on your report is accurate, it won’t ask the credit bureau to correct or remove the purported error.

6. Take a look at the results

Once the credit bureau you disputed the error with finishes its investigation, it must provide the results to you in writing within five days. The bureau must also provide contact information for the furnisher that reported the information, along with a free copy of your credit report if changes to the report resulted from the dispute.

If the furnisher that reported to the credit reporting agency deems the information inaccurate after its dispute investigation, the company or bank must tell the credit bureau to update or remove the information.

7. Make sure your credit report reflects the update

When a credit reporting bureau deletes or corrects inaccurate information on your credit report, it won’t appear the same day. In fact, it could take a couple of months for the report to reflect the change. If several months go by with no update on your credit report, contact both the furnisher and the credit bureau again to make sure the information is being properly reported.

Want to make sure you get results with credit repair? We’ll connect you with a trusted credit repair service.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC