Steps for Fixing Your Credit Report Errors
General Overview of the Dispute Process under The Fair Credit Reporting Act (Updated December 4, 2019)
We say “one way or the other” because credit report errors will either get fixed with your dispute letter or you can sue for money damages in federal court and the errors will be fixed and you’ll be paid money.
Before we jump into the steps — a few definitions.
Credit reporting agencies are companies like Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.
Furnishers are the companies that furnish or provide the credit reporting information to the credit reporting agencies — these furnishers are companies like Capital One, Discover, Midland, etc.
First — pull your credit reports.
The first step is always to look at your full credit report by using Annual Credit Report to pull your reports for free.
Click here to download the form to mail in or you can call 1-877-322-8228 or go to the credit request website of https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp to get your reports online. You should also pull your Sagestream and Innovis reports — we cover how to pull all of your free reports.
Second — look carefully at your credit reports for errors.
The second step is to carefully review everything listed on each report. If anything is incorrect, obtain the documents or proof that shows the information is incorrect. For example, the following simple chart discusses this:
|Document to Prove Inaccuracy
|Account you didn’t open, showing identity theft
|Debt discharged in bankruptcy, but still showing a balance
|Never late, but shown as late
|Won the collection suit against you
Obviously there can be other types of problems but hopefully the above gives you a good starting point for knowing what type of documents to get for the particular error you are dealing with…
Third — send a dispute letter (with documentation) to the credit reporting agencies by certified mail to fix the credit report errors.
Write a letter that identifies you, identifies the wrong account, and explains why it is wrong. Then include the documentation above.
We also suggest, primarily because Experian is a company that in our opinion loves to reject valid disputes, a copy of your driver’s license and a recent utility or bank statement showing your name and address.
Send this certified to the credit reporting agencies and to the furnisher — otherwise they will throw your letter and documentation in the trash. They’ll lie and say they never received it.
But when you send it certified, it makes them think twice about lying as you can prove they received it.
Finally, a note about online disputes. They are quick but typically it is hard to attach documentation and it is difficult to prove what you disputed unless you do screen shots or record a screen capture video as you do your dispute.
OK, so what happens next?
Fourth — you will get the “results of the investigation” in about 30-40 days telling you whether the false information is staying or is deleted.
What if it is fixed?
Great!! Congratulations — you now have accurate credit reports which is what you wanted in the first place.
What if Equifax, Experian, Transunion, etc. won’t fix it — instead they say the false information will remain?
The solution is normally to sue the credit reporting agency (or agencies) and whoever gave or furnished the false information. You sue them for money damages in federal court — this gets their attention!
You’ll get your report fixed and get money damages if you are successful.
Contact Us if you would like help disputing credit report errors.
Let us know if you have any questions about the dispute process. Or suing the bad guys — we do this all the time.
We know how frustrating it can be to have credit report errors. You CAN fix this. Either it will get fixed without litigation or with a lawsuit.
You can reach us by phone at 1-205-879-2447.
I look forward to talking with you!
Have a great day.