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How to Dispute Credit Report

Errors on your credit report aren’t as uncommon as you might think. These issues, whether big or small, can negatively alter your credit score, making it harder to get approved for new lines of credit or loans. An error could even impact your ability to rent an apartment or get a job. So if you happen to spot an error when reviewing your credit report, it’s important to act quickly to remedy the mistake. Most errors can be resolved by contacting the appropriate credit bureau.

Need help juggling your financial plans, credit and debt? A local financial advisor can help.

What Constitutes a Credit Report Error?

There are multiple ways to spot errors on your credit report. Many free websites offer a summary of your credit profile, so you can check for inconsistencies there. For example, you might see errors like accounts under your name that aren’t yours, incorrect credit utilization numbers or even delinquent payments that shouldn’t be there.

You can also check for errors by requesting a free copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com. These reports are much more detailed, so you can comb through all of the information to find any errors that may be hiding out.

How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

If you identify an error on your credit report, your first step should be to contact the credit bureaus that are reporting the error. The three premier bureaus are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, and you can dispute errors with these credit bureaus online, over the phone or by mail. You should include all relevant credit and contact information in your correspondence.

Once your report is in, the credit bureau will likely contact the data furnisher of the error. This is the organization that may have provided the credit bureau with the faulty information. In turn, the data furnisher is usually the loan-issuing bank or a credit card issuer. In some cases, you can solve the issue by going directly to the data furnisher in the first place.

Bottom Line

How to Dispute Credit Report

Finding an error or two on your credit report is fairly common, so it’s important to know what to look for.

If you think you see an error, identify what it is and then be sure to reach out to the credit bureau or bureaus that are reporting it. You should generally give them about 45 days to identify and remedy the mistake.

Tips for Managing Your Credit

  • As you plan for retirement and other financial goals, you’ll need to maintain a good credit profile. A financial advisor can help you manage all of these needs, and finding the right advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. Get started now.
  • Credit cards are a great resource to help you maintain and build credit. Plus, you can gather valuable credit card rewards while doing so. But if you need to repair your credit score, check out some of the top secured credit cards on the market.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/SDI Productions, ©iStock.com/Bill Oxford

Sam Lipscomb, CEPF® Sam Lipscomb is a writer for SmartAsset. His work spans a wide variety of personal finance topics with expertise including retirement, investing and savings. He is particularly well versed in credit cards. Sam has been featured in The Economist and on The Points Guy. He is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). Sam graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in Economics and enjoys being a go-to resource for family and friends when it comes to personal finance. Originally from Washington, DC, Sam loves all things aviation and is a Cleveland sports fan. He currently lives in New York.
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