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Credit Report – How to Correct Errors

Credit reporting agencies are required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to investigate credit report errors. Under the Act, if you find an error in your credit report, notify the credit reporting agency (CRA) in writing that you dispute the accuracy of the entry, and why (see Sample letter to dispute accuracy).

The CRA is required to investigate the disputed entry and respond to your letter within 30 days of receipt, unless the CRA deems the dispute frivolous. If an error is discovered it must be corrected or, if the entry cannot be verified as belonging to you, it must be removed completely. When the CRA completes its investigation, the CRA is required to send you written results of the investigation, and if an item is changed or deleted, a free copy of your credit report. If an item is changed or deleted, the CRA cannot place the disputed entry back in your report unless the information provider (creditor or merchant that placed the account on the report) verifies the validity of the entry. Furthermore, as part of the investigation, the CRA is required to provide you with the contact information (name, address, phone number) of the creditor or merchant.

When disputing an entry with a CRA it is also recommended that you contact the information provider in writing that you dispute the accuracy of the entry. Once the creditor or merchant receives written notice of your dispute, and if they report the item to a CRA, they must notify the CRA the entry is under dispute. If the disputed entry is found to be inaccurate, the information provider may no longer report the item.

In addition, at your request, the credit bureau will inform lenders who have requested your credit report within the past six months, or businesses that requested your report for employment reasons within the past two years, of any corrections or deletions made to your file.

Some “errors”, however, are not errors but legitimate disputes between a consumer and merchant as to what is owed. Therefore, you have the right to enter your own personal statement. Your statement will become a permanent part of the credit record and will be included with all other information given out at the time your credit report is requested. Your statement should indicate your side of the story, or why you feel a particular entry does not fairly or accurately reflect the situation it reports.

With respect to credit reporting agencies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you continue to have concerns regarding your credit report or credit reporting agencies, please contact the FTC at www.ftc.gov or call toll free 1-877-382-4357.