Form and Substance of Dispute Letter For Credit Report Errors


Form and Substance of Dispute Letter For Credit Report Errors

credit report errorsYou have pulled your credit reports and realize you have  credit report errors and you know you must dispute the error with the credit reporting agencies.

Also, you know you must dispute it in writing by certified mail, return receipt requested (no online disputes — that is a trap set by the reporting agencies — don’t fall for it — send your disputes by mail).

You must do this in order to either get the problem fixed voluntarily or for you to be able to sue in order to fix the problem.

But, specifically, what do you say in your dispute letter?

Are there magic words you must use?

Things you should or should not do? Let’s talk about two items:

Form of the letter; and

Substance of the letter.

Form of the Dispute Letter

By form I mean how does the letter look?

Where to you send it to?

Do you include copies of documents?

Who do you send the letter to?

What is the tone of the letter?

You should type your letter or print very neatly.

The whole point of the dispute letter is to make it easy for the credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and Trans Union) and the furnisher (the one who supplied the false information — such as Capital One, GMAC, etc) to fix the problem.

To fix your credit reports.

So the first step is to make sure they can read the letter.

Type it.

Use a readable font.

Identify who you are.

What is your name, address, phone #, date of birth, social security number, any former names that you have been known by, etc.

Again, you want to make it easy for them so they have no excuse to not fix the problem.

Include a copy of your driver’s license, a recent utility bill that has your address, or a bank statement.

Again, make it easy for the agencies and the furnisher to know who you are.

Next, make it easy to figure out what you are disputing credit report errors.

Put the name of the account.

Put the account number.

Describe the account (“this is the only American Express account I have” or “the balance on my Capital One account is about $4000”).

It is a good idea to take the page of your credit report that has the false information on it and enclose that with your letter . . . circling the false account.

Whenever you include documents, list them at the bottom of the letter under “Enclosures” so it is clear what you are including.

You should put above the address of the company you are sending the letter to (such as Equifax) that you are sending it by “Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.

Make sure you keep your receipt and the tracking number.

You should send a copy of the letter to the furnisher — the company that supplied the false information about you.

Do this by certified mail also.

Where do you get the addresses?

The credit report is the best place.

It will list the address of the credit reporting agency.

It will also list the address for the furnisher.

When you mail the letter, make sure that each one you mail — that is to each reporting agency (and you should mail to all) and to each furnisher — has all of the attachments.

Keep a signed copy (not just a word doc on your computer) that has all of the attachments. 

If possible, scan that and keep a paper copy with all attachments stapled to it.  Keep a scanned copy on your computer and also in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive/Gmail, etc).

Keep all of your receipts and copies of the certified mail paperwork.

Make sure the date on your letter is the date you actually mailed it.

OK – but what should the letter actually say?

The Substance Of The Dispute Letter

Probably the best way to demonstrate this is to give you a few examples after sharing these basic points:

  • Tell the credit reporting agencies what is wrong (not my account, never been late, discharged in bankruptcy, etc);
  • Tell them why it is wrong (I settled the debt, I won the collection lawsuit, here’s my payoff letter, etc);
  • Make sure and enclose whatever proof you have;
  • Make sure you tell the companies what you want (delete, remove the lates, show it as a zero balance, etc); and
  • Remind them you expect them to take your letter seriously.

Let’s say you are disputing an account (for example, Capital One) that is not your account but it is still on your credit reports.

Your letter might look something like the next article where we lay this out.

Or let’s say you have an account that you actually settled with a collector — for example Portfolio Recovery Associates out of Virginia — and the collector is still showing that you owe money.

Your letter might look something like the other sample dispute letter.

I hope this gives you an idea of how to send dispute letters and what to put in them.

Make it easy to understand and give the credit bureaus and the furnisher more than enough information to do the right thing or expose them as dishonorable companies that refuse to do the right thing.

Contact Us.

If you have any questions about credit report errors, give us a call at 1-205-879-2447.

Or you can fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to chatting with you and helping you decide the best course of action with your credit report errors.

Have a great day!

-John G. Watts


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  1. […] are the companies that compile or create your credit reports. We have other articles/videos on how to dispute false information but here is the basic […]

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