By Kaiwa Zawadi

In order to avoid the headache of cleaning up your credit report due to inaccuracies, it would be beneficial to check your credit report with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) annually. If there is any indication of any suspicious or fraudulent activity on your report, there are ways to dispute these errors.

According to a study conducted by the Federal Trade Commission, one in four consumers identified errors on their reports that might affect their credit rating in 2013. In addition, four out of five consumers who filed a claim or dispute, noticed a change to their credit report.

In addition, an Oregon woman recently sued Equifax and was awarded $18 million after she repeatedly contacted them to dispute incorrect information on her report. While this is an extreme case, there are plenty of instances in which credit bureaus will misreport information, so it's important to dispute errors immediately.

Don’t feel frustrated as there are ways you can fix these errors. Below are some steps to possibly erase these errors for good off of your report.  

1. Order Copies of Your Report
Order the most recent copy of your credit report. If there are any inaccuracies that you come across, this is the perfect opportunity for you to dispute it. Do not order a report from a third party agency. By law, you are entitled to a free copy of each of your reports. You may also qualify to receive a free report if you’ve been rejected from applying for credit within the last 60 days.

2. Pay Attention to Detail
Not only should you pay attention to major discrepancies such as inaccurate purchases or court judgments, watch out for smaller mistakes such as wrong addresses or misspelled names. These mistakes can spell fraudulent activity.

3. Highlight Mistakes
Make copies of the page reflecting the errors. Highlight the mistake and if there is more than one error, specify those with a bullet point or number. You can refer back to these errors when it’s time to file your dispute. Make copies of the highlighted and bulleted errors.

 4. Write the letter, don't dispute online
The process may seem quicker and easier by sending a dispute online, but it may not allow you to fully state your claim.

5. File Each Dispute Separately
If there are multiple errors on your report, write a dispute letter for each error and mail separately. Also, write separate letters to each of the three credit bureaus that report the mistakes. Don’t assume one credit agency will notify the other of discrepancies, plus, this helps keep track of what information is sent to each agency.

6. Keep it Basic
When you write your letter, keep it simple and easy to read. Be polite and very clear in what you’re disputing in plain language that spells out why the information doesn't belong on your report.

7. Evidence
This could be the most important part of your dispute. Including proper documentation and specific detailed information can determine the outcome of your claim. This way, the credit bureau can’t say you didn’t provide enough information. Remember to make copies of all your correspondence.

8. Organization
Keep very good records of all your claims and correspondence. Write down the names of all of the people you speak with in customer service including dates and times and what was discussed. You never know if this pertinent information can be used later.

9. Mail Your Claims
If you’ve thoroughly checked each report you should know which collection agency or data furnisher (the one sharing your information) is reporting the errors on your history. Disputes can take a least a few weeks to process. They will then let you know if your claim is valid or not.

10. Keep Pushing
If you know that the discrepancy is valid and it continues to be verified through the credit bureaus, you may want to seek legal help. There are lawyers experienced in Fair Credit Reporting Act cases. The National Association of Consumer Advocates provides a detailed list of attorneys.

MyBankTracker is an independent resource that helps consumers make smarter banking and money decisions.

Related Articles
  1. Credit & Loans

    How Your VantageScore Credit Report Is Calculated

    Deficiencies in the FICO credit report have led to the creation of a new credit scoring system - the Vantagescore. Find out what factors determine this credit score, and how the model can benefit ...
  2. Credit & Loans

    Consequences Of Maxing Out Your Credit Card

    With the average credit card holder owning 3.5 cards, it’s important to manage and keep track of purchases made with your card, so you don’t go over your credit card limit or cap.
  3. Credit & Loans

    5 Secrets Credit Card Companies Don’t Want You To Know

    Find out some of the ways you can lessen your interest payments and avoid other unnecessary penalties that lurk in the fine print.
  4. Credit & Loans

    What's On A Consumer Credit Report?

    A look at the various components and considerations that go into one's credit report and credit score.
  5. Credit & Loans

    4 Unexpected Things That Lower Your Credit

    It's important to maintain a good credit score. Discover what could be lowering it, without your knowledge.
  6. Credit & Loans

    The 5 Biggest Factors That Affect Your Credit

    Credit companies rely on these factors to determine whether to lend to you and at what rate.
  7. Credit & Loans

    Millennials Guide: Buying Your First House

    Millennial homebuyers need to research a lot of things, such as how much to pay, down payments, PMI, FHA loans and special programs for first-time buyers.
  8. Budgeting

    The 7 Best Ways to Get Out of Debt

    Obtain information on how to put together and execute a plan to get out of debt, including the various steps and methods people use to become debt-free.
  9. Credit & Loans

    5 Signs a Reverse Mortgage Is a Bad Idea

    Here are the key situations when you should probably pass on this type of home loan.
  10. Credit & Loans

    5 Signs a Reverse Mortgage Is a Good Idea

    If these five criteria describe your situation, a reverse mortgage might be a good idea for you.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Debt/Equity Ratio

    1. A debt ratio used to measure a company's financial leverage. ...
  2. Credit Rating

    An assessment of the credit worthiness of a borrower in general ...
  3. Transferable Points Programs

    With transferable points programs, customers earn points by using ...
  4. Luhn Algorithm

    An algorithm used to validate a credit card number.
  5. Personal Property Securities Register ...

    A written, public, online record of legal claims to personal ...
  6. Roll Rate

    The percentage of credit card users who become increasingly delinquent ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. Can my IRA be garnished for child support?

    Though some states protect IRA savings from garnishment of any kind, most states lift this exemption in cases where the account ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can creditors garnish my IRA?

    Depending on the state where you live, your IRA may be garnished by a number of creditors. Unlike 401(k) plans or other qualified ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why would someone change their Social Security number?

    In general, the Social Security Administration, or SSA, does not encourage citizens to change their Social Security numbers, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Is my IRA protected in a bankruptcy?

    All types of individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, recognized under the federal tax code enjoy substantial protection ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can I take a loan from my 401(k)?

    The majority of employers offer eligible employees the opportunity to save for retirement in a qualified plan through paycheck ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!