Federal law allows you to dispute inaccurate information on your credit report. There is no fee for filing a dispute. You may submit your dispute to the creditor who provided the information to the credit reporting agency and to the credit reporting agency who included the information on your credit report. Unless you submit your dispute to the credit reporting agency, you will not be able to sue the creditor for damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act for inaccurate credit reporting.
The Federal Trade Commission’s website has information about how to dispute errors on credit reports, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website provides additional guidance about disputing information on credit reports.
If you submit a dispute to a one of the credit reporting agencies, they may make changes to your credit report based on the documents and information you provided. They may also contact the creditor reporting the disputed information, supply them all relevant information and any documents you provide with your dispute, and instruct them to investigate your dispute. The consumer reporting agencies instruct the creditor to review all information you provided about your dispute, verify the accuracy of the information it is reporting to the credit reporting agency, and provide the credit reporting agency with a response to your dispute, including any changes to the information reported. The credit reporting agency will then notify you of the results of the investigation.
If you submit a dispute directly with a creditor, they are supposed to conduct an investigation and will send you the results of the investigation directly. They are supposed to notify the credit reporting agencies of any changes that need to be made to the information as a result of the investigation.
If a dispute to the credit reporting agencies results in a change to your credit report, you will have up to 12 months to order a second free report through AnnualCreditReport.com in order to review the changes.
To submit a dispute to a credit reporting agency, contact the credit reporting agency who has the disputed information on your credit report. You may submit a dispute with each of the credit reporting companies over the internet or by mail.
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
It is a good idea to submit documents in support of your dispute. Documents may be uploaded for online disputes or submitted by mail. When mailing documents, only submit copies of documents and not originals. Documents will not be returned to you following the investigation.
The Federal Trade Commission’s website has more information on correcting your credit report, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website also provides additional information on disputing information on your credit report as well.
What information do I need to provide when submitting a dispute?
Your dispute notice should include adequate identification about yourself, identify the account or other item being disputed, and explain why it is disputed. Make sure your description is broad enough to encompass the disputed account even if the number changes.
Be Specific and Careful How You Describe an Account in Your Dispute Letter.
Be specific as to the bank and account number you are disputing. Account numbers can change and the account number in your monthly statement is different than the number used in your file at the credit reporting agency (or by a debt collector to which the debt is transferred).
To prevent these problems, your dispute should describe the full range of accounts the dispute covers and also should be specific. For example, “I have never had a Bank X credit card. Any Bank X account in my credit file is not mine and should be deleted. This includes account number 1234, as well as any other account you may be reporting, as well as any account that may be reported by Bank Y, Credit Card Issuer Z, or any debt collector who is reporting an account that was formerly a Bank X account.”
Other types of information you should include are:
- Your full name, including middle initial and suffix, such as Jr., Sr., II, III
- Social Security Number
- Date of birth
- Current address
- All addresses where you have lived during the past two years
Depending on how you submit your dispute (through the internet or by mail), you may also be asked to provide the following additional information:
- Email address
- A copy of a government-issued identification card, such as a driver's license or state ID card
- A copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement
You should list each item on your credit report that you believe is inaccurate, including the creditor name, the account number and the specific reason you feel the information is incorrect.
You may also submit documents to support your dispute. Depending on the type of information disputed, the following documents may be helpful in resolving your dispute:
- Police reports or an FTC Identity Theft Report, showing that an account was the result of identity theft
- Bankruptcy schedules showing that an account was included in or discharged in bankruptcy
- Letters from creditors showing how an account should be corrected
- Student loan disability letters showing that a student loan has been discharged due to disability
- Cancelled checks showing that a collection account has been paid
- Court documents regarding public records
How long will it take to complete the investigation?
Once you submit your dispute to the credit reporting agencies, you will need to allow up to 30 to 45 days for the investigation of your dispute to be completed by the credit reporting companies.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has additional information regarding the length of a dispute investigation.
What steps can I take if I do not agree with the dispute investigation results?
If you still believe that the information on your credit report is not accurate following your review of the investigation results from the credit reporting agency, you have several options:
- You may contact the creditor that reported the information to the credit reporting agency and dispute it directly with them. If you wish to obtain documentation or written verification concerning your accounts, please contact your creditors directly.
- You may provide additional information or documents to the credit reporting agency relating to your dispute.
- You may request a brief statement be added to your report. Your statement should be specific to your dispute of credit information.
- You may file a complaint about the creditor reporting the item or the credit reporting agency, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or your State Attorney General's office.
- You can retain an attorney to advise you about whether to file a lawsuit to pursue your rights.
Further information is also available from the National Consumer Law Center, including: