Credit Report Disputes
Under both Federal and state law, the nation's 3 largest credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion), must maintain accurate records and information on you and your credit history. The information contained in these files, which is known as your credit report, will determine whether a creditor will accept your application and grant you a loan for a home, new car or big screen television and determines what interest rate you will be charged for the loan.
Inaccurate, incomplete, disputed or outdated information are considered violations of the fair credit reporting laws. You can sue a credit bureau and or creditor for violations of these fair credit laws and receive monetary compensation for the damages suffered plus an additional amount up to $1,000 per violation, attorney fees and court costs will be paid for by the defendant. More importantly, you can restore your good credit and make certain it is a fair representation of your actual payment history.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the credit reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The three companies have set up one central website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free credit report. According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if you want to order your free annual credit report online, there is only one authorized website: www.annualcreditreport.com.
Order copies of your credit reports before you apply for a credit card, mortgage or other type of loan. If you stay in the know regarding your credit history and payment record, you will be aware of any changes or incorrect information if it suddenly appears.
Credit Dispute FAQs
Q: What if I find errors either inaccuracies or incomplete information in my credit report?
A: Under the FCRA, both the credit reporting company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a credit reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take full advantage of your rights under this law, contact the credit reporting company and the information provider.
Credit reporting companies must investigate the items in question usually within 30 days unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the credit reporting company, they must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the credit reporting company. If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.
When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The credit reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.
Tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a credit reporting company, it must include a notice of your dispute. And if you are correct that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate the information provider may not report it again.
Q: What can I do if the credit reporting company or information provider won't correct the information I dispute?
A: If an investigation doesn't resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the credit reporting company to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service. If you tell the information provider that you dispute an item, a notice of your dispute must be included any time the information provider reports the item to a credit reporting company.
Q: How long can a credit reporting company report negative information?
A: A credit reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. There is no time limit on reporting information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you've applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance. Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.
Q: Can anyone else can get a copy of my credit report?
A: The FCRA specifies who can access your credit report. Creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use the information in your report to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home are among those that have a legal right to access your report.
Q: Can my employer get my credit report?
A: Your employer can get a copy of your credit report only if you agree. A credit reporting company may not provide information about you to your employer, or to a prospective employer, without your written consent.
Please use the credit dispute letter below and send it registered mail only, to the credit bureaus to dispute any item (s) on your credit report that you have found to be inaccurate or reported incorrectly. This includes payment history, personal information such as an incorrect spelling of your name, or a wrong social security number or address. Always save the receipt confirming the letter was received, should you need to use it for proof if the information is not corrected.
Credit Dispute LetterEquifax
Equifax Credit Information Services Inc.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022 Experian
National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
Re: Credit report error
Dear Sir or Madam:
I have obtained a recent copy of my credit report and discovered it contains inaccurate information. The credit report in my name (LIST FULL NAME HERE) and Social Security number (LIST SSN NUMBER) maintained by your agency (NAME OF BUREAU).
You will find a copy of this credit report enclosed, with the inaccurate data highlighted in yellow and/or circled in red (Use one method or both). The following information that I have highlighted/circled is wrong because the report states that: (LIST THE INACCURACY). This is not the case because (LIST REASONS WHY THE LISTING IS WRONG).
(If you are dealing with a billing error, make sure you list the creditor's name and account number that lists the inaccurate data.)
Please investigate this matter with (LIST CREDITOR HERE) and correct and delete these disputed items from my credit report.
In addition, make this letter a permanent part of my credit record.
If you have any questions about this request or the disputed credit information, you can call me at (LIST PREFERRED CONTACT NUMBER: WORK, HOME, CELL).
Thank you for your prompt attention in this matter.
Your Printed or typed name
City, State and Zip Code
Your Social Security Number
Your contact number
Encl: credit report
Last Modified: Monday, June 10, 2013