The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 and following) requires consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to adopt reasonable procedures for gathering, maintaining, and distributing information and sets accuracy standards for creditors that provide information to CRAs. Under the FCRA, you have the right to dispute all incomplete and inaccurate information in your credit report.
Read on to find out how to dispute incorrect information in your report with one or more of the three nationwide CRAs: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
You may initiate a dispute about an incomplete or inaccurate item in your credit report online, by mail, or by phone.
Initiating a dispute online. The three nationwide CRAs allow you to dispute information in your credit report online. This is the easiest way to file a dispute. Experian even provides a “dispute” option next to the listed personal information and each tradeline in your credit report, and allows you to add disputed items to a “cart.” You can then checkout and receive email updates on the status of your dispute.
Initiating a dispute by mail. If you prefer not to use the online process, you can mail in your dispute. After you’ve compiled a list of all incomplete and inaccurate information you want corrected or removed, prepare a letter identifying each correction needed and the reasons that support your dispute for that item.
Below are some examples of the types of corrections you might include in your letter:
Send your letter to the address provided by the CRA for disputing information and keep a copy for your records. Also, enclose copies of any documents you have that support your claim. It may help to include a copy of your credit report with the disputed items highlighted. Keep your original documents.
Initiating a dispute by phone. To initiate a dispute by phone, call the CRA that has inaccurate information on your credit report. (See below for instructions on how to find the phone numbers for the CRAs.)
To find contact information for initiating a credit dispute with each of the three nationwide CRAs, go online. Here’s where to look:
Once the CRA receives your dispute, it must either reinvestigate the items you dispute or delete them from your credit report within three business days after receiving your dispute.
If the credit reporting agency deletes the information. If the CRA chooses to delete the incorrect information within the three-day time frame, it must notify you by telephone, provide a follow-up written confirmation, and provide a copy of a new credit report within five days after the deletion.
If the credit reporting agency conducts a reinvestigation. If the agency does not delete the information within three business days, it must:
Frivolous disputes. In most situations, the CRA has a duty to investigate an item once you dispute it. But if your dispute is frivolous or irrelevant, the CRA does not have to investigate further. This means that if you dispute everything or almost everything in the report—without regard to what you believe is accurate or inaccurate—or you repeatedly ask for reinvestigation of the same item, the credit reporting agency may not have to investigate your dispute at all.
If the CRA does not respond to your dispute within time limits imposed by law, you may: