Is Your Credit Report Accurate?
The information in your credit report can affect your buying power and your chance to get a job, rent or buy a place to live, and buy insurance. Credit bureaus sell the information in your report to businesses that use it to decide whether to loan you money, give you credit, offer you insurance, or rent you a home. Some employers use credit reports in hiring decisions. The strength of your credit history also affects how much you will have to pay to borrow money. You’ll want to be sure the information in your report is both accurate and complete. Find out by regularly checking your credit report. You have the right to get free copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every 12 months. (That’s Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.) To get your free credit reports, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Through December 2023, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at AnnualCreditReport.com. Also, anyone in the U.S. can get 6 free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. That’s in addition to the one free Equifax report (plus your Experian and TransUnion reports) you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Checking your credit report is also a good way to spot identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, Social Security number, or medical insurance account numbers — without your permission. They might buy things with your credit cards, get new credit cards in your name, open a phone, electricity, or gas account in your name, steal your tax refund, or use your health insurance to get medical care.
Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the account is reported on your credit report as unpaid and delinquent. Inaccurate information like that could end up on your credit report and affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job. If you think someone might be using your personal information, go to IdentityTheft.gov to report it and get a personalized recovery plan.
What If The Information is Right…But Not Good?
If there’s information in your credit history that’s correct, but negative — for example, if you’ve made late payments — the credit bureaus can put it in your credit report. But it doesn’t stay there forever. As long as the information is correct, a credit bureau can report most negative information for seven years, and bankruptcy information for 10 years.
How To Correct Mistakes in Your Credit Report
Both the credit bureau and the business that supplied the information to a credit bureau have to correct information that’s wrong or incomplete in your report. And they have to do it for free. To correct mistakes in your report, contact the credit bureau and the business that reported the inaccurate information. Tell them you want to dispute that information on your report. Here’s how.
Dispute mistakes with the credit bureaus
You should dispute with each credit bureau that has the mistake. Explain in writing what you think is wrong, include the credit bureau’s dispute form (if they have one), copies of documents that support your dispute, and keep records of everything you send. If you send your dispute by mail, you can use the address found on your credit report or a credit bureau’s address for disputes.
More information about Equifax’s dispute process.
Mail your letter to:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30348
More information about Experian’s dispute process and dispute form.
Mail the form with your letter to:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
More information about Transunion’s dispute process by mail and dispute form.
Mail the form with your letter to:
TransUnion LLC Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
- Use this sample letter to help write your own.
- Your letter should:
- Ask the credit bureau to remove or correct the inaccurate or incomplete information.
- your complete name and address
- each mistake that you want fixed, and why
- copies (not originals) of documents that support your request
- a copy of your report (circle the mistakes you want fixed),
- Send your letter by certified mail and pay for a “return receipt” so you have a record the credit bureau got it.
- Keep copies of everything you sent. The credit bureaus also accept disputes online or by phone:
- Experian (888) 397-3742
- Transunion (800) 916-8800
- Equifax (866) 349-5191
What happens after you dispute with a credit bureau
- However you filed your dispute, the credit bureau has 30 days to investigate it.
- If the credit bureau considers your request to be “frivolous” or “irrelevant,” they will stop investigating, but they need to notify you of that and give the reason. For instance, you may need to give them additional evidence to support your request.
- The credit bureau will also forward all the evidence you submitted to the business that reported the information. Then, the business must investigate and report the results back to the credit bureau. If the business finds the information they reported is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide credit bureaus so they can correct the information in your file.
- The credit bureau must give you the results in writing and, if the dispute results in a change, a free copy of your credit report. This doesn’t count as your free annual credit report.
- The credit bureau
- must send notices of the correction(s) to anyone who got your report in the past six months, if you ask
- must send notice of the correction to anyone who got a copy for employment purposes during the past two years, if you ask
What if the investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute
- You can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. Also, you can ask that the credit bureau give your statement to anyone who got a copy of your report in the recent past — you can expect the credit bureau to charge you a fee to do this.
Dispute it with the business that supplied the information
- Use this sample letter to dispute mistakes with businesses that reported the inaccurate or incomplete information.
- The letter should say you’re disputing errors and should include: your complete name and address; each bit of inaccurate information that you want fixed, and why; and copies (not originals) of documents that support your request.
- Many businesses want disputes sent to a particular address. If you can’t find a dispute address on your credit report or online, contact the business and ask for the correct address to send your letter.
What happens after you dispute with a business that supplied the information
If the business keeps reporting the disputed information to a credit bureau, it must let the credit bureau know about your dispute and the credit bureau must include a notice that you are disputing it as inaccurate or incomplete. If the business finds the information you dispute to be inaccurate or incomplete, the business must tell the credit bureau to update or delete that information from your report.
Monitor Your Credit Reports
Review your credit report to confirm that the credit bureau removed the inaccurate information from your report. If the business keeps reporting disputed information, check that the credit bureaus placed a notice that you are disputing that information.
If you see a scam, fraud, or bad business practices, tell the FTC. Go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov, the FTC’s website that makes it easy for you to report.