Checking your credit reports regularly for errors is important in maintaining a good credit score and protecting yourself from identity theft. If you find mistakes, swift action may be necessary to rectify inaccurate information. Begin with a thorough review of your credit reports from each of the three main credit recording companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Request a free copy of your credit report
Step one in answering how do I fix credit report errors begins with reviewing your credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies every 12 months. You can request a copy online at AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s possible to request all three reports at once or you can order one report at a time. Requesting them separately at various times throughout the year may enable you to monitor your credit report more frequently. You can request these free annual reports online as mentioned above, by phone, or by mail. Contact Annual Credit Report service via phone by calling 877-322-8228 or by mail at: Annual Credit Reporting Service, P.O. Box 105282, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. In addition, you may be eligible for an additional credit report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act if:
- a person has taken adverse action against you because of information in your credit report;
- you are the victim of identity theft and place a fraud alert in your file;
- your file contains inaccurate information as a result of fraud;
- you are on public assistance;
- you are unemployed but expect to apply for employment within 60 days.
Identifying credit report errors
Step two when looking at how do I fix credit report errors is identifying mistakes on your credit report. Some errors to look for include:
- Mistakes in identity or personal info, such as an incorrect name, phone number, or address.
- Account information belonging to another consumer that may have the same or a similar name.
- Incorrect account balances or credit limits.
- Credit inquiries that you did not authorize
- An account you are not familiar with.
- Duplicate accounts that may be listed under different names or creditors.
- Account status errors, such as a closed account that is still being reported as open, a paid-off account that is still showing as unpaid, or an account that’s incorrectly labeled as late or delinquent.
- Public records that don’t belong to you, such as a bankruptcy.
Disputing errors on your credit report
If you find any errors, missing, or fraudulent information, you should dispute those items with both the creditor that reported the information and the credit reporting agency that produced the specific credit report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting bureau and the company that reports the information about you to the credit bureau, are required to accept disputes and correct any inaccurate information.
Here are links for each credit bureau to find more information on the ways you can file a dispute with each. Be sure to clearly explain what needs to be fixed and why. If you are filing a report via mail, we recommend using certified mail, so there is a record of sending your dispute.
File your report online or by mail.
Generally, credit bureaus will respond to your dispute within 30 days. At that time, the credit bureau may decide to update your credit report with any corrections needed. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your dispute, you can submit it with any additional information again. You can also file a complaint regarding the credit bureau with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Keep in mind that only incorrect information can be removed from your credit report.
When applying for financing, a higher credit score may save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest by helping you get a better rate. Be sure to check your reports regularly to check for errors and read our blog post “Tips for Improving Your Credit Score.”