Credit Report Repair & Dispute
Credit report repair probably ranks up there with car repairs or dental
work in terms of popularity, but it’s just as important to your financial
status as a working engine is to your mobility. And, just like a root
canal, the sooner you undertake your credit report repair, the better off
you’ll be in the long run.
After all, your credit history is used by banks and credit card companies to
determine whether you qualify for a loan or credit — and at what interest rate
— so it’s in your best interest to make sure your credit report glistens like a
supermodel’s smile. If you need to take the plunge into credit report
repair, here are a few tips on the process.
Credit Report Repair: Step One
Your first step is to double-check any errors or inaccuracies you may have
found. Credit bureaus are obligated to investigate any disputes they
receive, usually within 30 days, unless they consider the dispute
frivolous. Since “frivolous,” like “beauty,” may be in the eye of the
beholder, your best course of action is to gather evidence to support your
Find original letters and other documents from banks, credit issuers and other
companies that prove you closed this account or paid off that loan, and
immediately investigate any unauthorized accounts you may have found in your
credit report. (If you find that the unauthorized accounts weren’t opened
by a close family member, it could be a sign of identity theft. consult
the “What if Identity Theft Prevention Doesn’t Work?” article for information
about combating identity theft and restoring your identity.)
Credit Report Repair: Step Two
Once you’ve documented the errors or inaccuracies, contact the credit bureau(s)
to dispute the information. (
to download a sample dispute form.) Make a copy of your
credit report, highlight the items in dispute, explain why you believe the
information is inaccurate, and ask the credit bureau to remove or correct the
information on your credit report.
Make copies of the documents you gathered to support your claim, and send them,
along with your letter and highlighted credit report, via certified,
return-receipt mail to the credit bureau. (Be sure to keep a copy of your
letter, and keep all original documents stored safely.) Assuming your
dispute rises above the “frivolous” standard, the credit bureau will
investigate it. Once the investigation is over, the credit bureau is
required to write to you with the results.
If your dispute is upheld, the credit bureau has to remove the incorrect
information from your file. The bureau also has to give you a free copy
of your report, along with the name, address, and phone number of the company
that provided the erroneous information.
And your credit report repair rights don’t end there: You can also direct
the credit bureau to send correction notices to anyone who received your report
in the past six months. If you’ve been job hunting, you can order the
bureau to send a corrected copy of your report to anyone who received a copy
during the past two years for employment purposes.
If your dispute isn’t resolved after the investigation, you can ask that a
statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You
also can ask the credit bureau to provide your statement to anyone who received
a copy of your report in the recent past, although credit bureaus can charge
you for this service.
Credit Report Repair: Step Three
While the credit bureau is investigating, be sure to contact any and all
companies (e.g., banks, credit card issuers) that supplied the information
you’re disputing. The credit bureau is also required to contact these
companies, but this is your credit history, so you need to be pro-active in
your credit report repair. Send them copies of your documents via
certified, return-receipt mail, tell them you’re disputing the data they gave
the credit bureau, and ask them to investigate the matter as well. If the
information in question is determined to be inaccurate, the company cannot
report it again.
Please note: No one can legally remove accurate and timely
negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an
investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or
incomplete at no charge to you. Please visit ftc.gov/credit for more
credit report repair.