FCRANewsHow to Dispute Erroneous or Inaccurate Information on Your Credit Report

April 22, 2024

Identity Theft

Your credit report is one of the most important financial documents you have. It can impact your ability to get a loan, rent an apartment, or even get a job. So it can be incredibly stressful and frustrating to discover that there are errors or inaccurate negative items on your credit report dragging down your credit score.

Maybe you’ve found accounts that don’t belong to you, late payments that you actually made on time, or debts that should have fallen off your report by now. These mistakes can cost you in many ways. But the good news is, you have the right to dispute any information on your credit report that you believe is wrong and to have it corrected or removed if it can’t be verified.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Your Rights

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that regulates credit reporting agencies and protects consumers’ credit info.

Under the FCRA, you have the right to:

  • Access your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once every 12 months for free
  • Dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit reports
  • Have errors investigated by the credit bureaus and corrected, usually within 30 days
  • Provide a written explanation on your credit report of any dispute that is not resolved in your favor

If a credit bureau or information furnisher (like a lender or debt collector) violates the FCRA, you may be able to sue them for damages. So, it’s important to know your rights and take steps to protect your credit.

Credit Reporting

Checking Your Credit Reports for Errors

The first step to cleaning up your credit report is to get a copy of your report from each of the three major credit bureaus and review them carefully for mistakes. You can request your free annual credit reports online at AnnualCreditReport.com, the only website federally authorized to provide them.

Go through each section of your credit reports and look for any information that seems inaccurate, incomplete, or unfamiliar. Some common credit report errors to watch for include:

  • Accounts that don’t belong to you, possibly due to identity theft or mixed-up files
  • Incorrect account status, like closed accounts reported as open or vice versa
  • Wrong payment statuses, like on-time payments reported as late
  • Inaccurate balances or credit limits
  • Accounts listed multiple times
  • Negative items that are too old to still be reported (most negative info should fall off after 7 years)

Make a note of any potential errors you find and gather any documents you have that could help prove the information is wrong, like payment records or correspondence with creditors.

Disputing Errors with the Credit Bureaus

If you find mistakes on your credit report, you have the right to dispute that information with the credit bureau that issued the report. You can dispute credit report errors online, by phone, or by mail. However, it’s generally best to dispute in writing by mail so you have a paper trail of your communications.

To file your dispute, write a clear, concise letter identifying each error you found and explaining why you are disputing it. Include your complete name, address, and a copy of the credit report with the errors circled or highlighted. Also enclose copies (not originals) of any supporting documents.

Your dispute letter should include:

  • Your full name and address
  • Report confirmation number, if available
  • Clear identification of each mistake, with an explanation of why it’s wrong
  • A request that the information be removed or corrected

Send your dispute letter by certified mail with return receipt requested, so you have proof of when it was sent and received. Also send a copy of your dispute to the lender or collector that reported the incorrect information (the information furnisher). The credit bureau has 30 days to investigate your dispute, unless they consider it “frivolous.”

If the investigation results in a change to your credit report, the bureau must send you a free copy of your updated report. If the investigation does not resolve the dispute in your favor, you can request that a statement of the dispute be included in your credit file and future reports.

When to Consider Legal Help

While you can handle most credit reporting disputes on your own, there are some situations where you may need legal assistance. If you have evidence that a credit bureau or information furnisher is violating the FCRA by failing to properly investigate your dispute or continuing to report inaccurate information, you may want to reach out to us at Consumer Law Attorneys.

Our FCRA attorneys can help you understand your rights, communicate with the credit bureaus and information furnishers on your behalf, and take legal action if necessary.

Some signs that it may be time to seek legal help with a credit reporting issue include:

  • The credit bureau fails to respond to your dispute within the 30-day timeframe
  • Inaccurate negative information keeps reappearing on your report even after it’s been disputed and removed
  • A creditor or debt collector is falsely reporting a debt that doesn’t belong to you
  • Your credit report errors are the result of identity theft, and the credit bureaus aren’t helping you resolve the issue

Contact an FCRA Lawyer Today

Dealing with credit report errors can be a frustrating and time-consuming process, but it’s important to stay diligent about monitoring your credit and disputing any mistakes you find. Inaccurate negative information on your credit report can cost you in many ways, from higher interest rates to missed job or housing opportunities.

Remember, under the FCRA, you have the right to dispute any information on your credit report that you believe is inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable. The credit bureaus are required by law to investigate your disputes and remove or correct any errors they find.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused about how to handle a credit reporting issue, don’t be afraid to reach out to our experienced FCRA attorneys for help. Call Consumer Law Attorneys at 877-241-2200 or fill out the form below.

The key is to stay informed, proactive, and persistent in monitoring your credit and addressing any issues that arise. By taking control of your credit situation, you can work towards building a strong, accurate credit profile that opens doors to better financial opportunities.

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