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What is a credit report?

You don’t get to decide what goes on your credit report. In fact, only others (banks, collection companies, etc.), called ‘furnishers,’ provide information to be reported. Furnishers don’t have first-hand knowledge of what they report about you like you do. But they do it anyway. Furnishers tell credit reporting agencies (CRA) like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion what to report. CRAs use the information they gather to create a credit report specific to you. And it’s often inaccurate.

Why is my credit report incorrect?

The major CRAs use an automated system instead of people actually communicating with each other. Your credit report may include information from one of your family members or a complete stranger (mixed files). You may be a victim of identity theft. An account (often called a tradeline) may be reporting on your credit multiple times despite there being only one account. These are all very common in the credit reporting world.

How can I get things off my credit?

You can dispute information with the CRA and hope the CRA does its job. A CRA is supposed to have procedures to ensure “maximum possible accuracy,” which sounds great but isn’t the reality for many CRAs. Note: The law requires you to dispute with the credit reporting agency directly; you can dispute with the creditor/furnisher directly, but it does not give you the same legal rights. If the CRA cannot verify the challenged information as accurate, it must be corrected or removed.

We have prepared sample dispute letter templates for Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, which you may use at your own peril. We make no representations of any results. Also, there are many CRAs other than the main ones discussed.

What happens if incorrect information is not fixed or taken off my credit?

If you have correctly disputed (see below for how to dispute) information on your credit and the information is not corrected, you may be entitled to damages. Damages could be loss of ability to obtain credit (can’t get a job, car loan, or home loan), embarrassment, or other emotional distress.

Is there a sample form I can use to dispute information on my credit report?

Yes, however, it is important that you only dispute information that you believe is incorrect. If you dispute everything or you dispute correct accounts, you run the risk that your dispute will not be taken seriously. To prove you sent your dispute, send it by certified mail with a return receipt requested.

Also, we recommend that you write your own letter. Letters you find on the internet can hurt you because they may have templates that includes information that does not apply to you, which could result in your dispute being ignored.

It is best to write a polite letter asking for help. The people who review your letters are just trying to make a living just like you, and it’s often the automated system, not the people, that is responsible for placing incorrect information on your report. We will not represent people who are rude or inconsiderate to others. Be sure to make a copy of your signed letter before it’s sent.

What information should be in my dispute letter?

You should include your:

  • Name
  • Address (where you will actually receive mail)
  • Proof of your address (utility bill, account statement, etc.)
  • Social Security Number
  • Detail of information you dispute

In some instances, you may not know where the information on your credit report came from. That’s okay. Simply write that and ask that they provide you with information supporting the information in the credit report. Remember that this is your credit report that affects your ability to get a job, a car, housing, and many other needs for you or your family.