Resolving errors in credit reports
In comparing the three informational reports, you may notice slight differences (not necessarily mistakes) in the data each company has collected. This is because the records of some reporting agencies go back further than others. Different information can also mean that certain creditors have reported your account data to one of the three reporting agencies, but not the other two.
But what if you do find a mistake? Don’t get upset. Just make an effort to set the record straight as quickly as possible. Contact the credit agency that reported the mistake. Don't use “credit repair” companies. These firms are expensive and may encourage you to challenge virtually everything on your credit record.
A more sensible action plan is to:
- Make copies of any receipts, bank statements, or other records you need to prove your case.
- Visit the agency's Web site and go to the dispute section. The process is free online at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
- The Web sites require you to enter the number at the top of your credit report. Do so, and then enter your additional payment information at the prompts.
- Within 30 to 45 days, the credit bureaus will contact creditors in an attempt to verify your claims.
- Lend support to your argument by writing short letters to the creditors themselves. Include copies of your records—not the originals.
- If errors are confirmed, you have the right to ask the bureaus to send correction notices to anyone who received your credit report in the previous six months.
- If a mistake is confirmed, the credit-reporting agency will report it to the other two. You only need to work with one agency to resolve disputes.