A credit report dispute letter allows consumers to challenge inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated information on their credit reports. This document can allow you to correct any mistakes in your credit history, which can help you take charge of your credit rating and financial future.
- What Is a Credit Report Dispute Letter?
- What Credit Report Errors Can You Dispute?
- What to Include in a Credit Dispute Letter
- How to Dispute an Item on a Credit Report
- Where to Send Your Credit Dispute Letter
- How Else Can I Dispute a Debt?
- Credit Report Dispute Letter Sample
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Credit Report Dispute Letter?
A credit report dispute letter is a type of written communication you can send to the credit bureaus to contest any errors, discrepancies, or inaccuracies on your credit report. The letter will identify your disputed items, explain the reasons for the disputes with supporting facts, and request the credit bureau to correct the information.
Unfortunately, mistakes are more common than many people realize. Failure to address these issues can create long-term credit issues. If you wait to report an issue, you may lose the evidence to prove the inaccuracies.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1681x) grants you the right to dispute any information you believe to be incorrect, outdated, or unfairly reported in a credit dispute letter. This document formally requests the credit bureaus to investigate the disputed items and correct any inaccuracies.
What Credit Report Errors Can You Dispute?
You can dispute credit report information like:
Incorrect Account Details
You may notice an incorrect account number on your credit report. For example, two numbers on your mortgage statement may be transposed, or your report may show an entirely incorrect account number. In any case, you can settle these details in a dispute letter.
Your report may show you failed to make a payment entirely or made a payment late. If you have the evidence to prove these claims false, you may consider writing a credit dispute letter.
Review your report and look for instances of duplicate accounts. If the same credit account appears multiple times, you can request the removal of the duplicates.
Depending on your jurisdiction, a debt may have a statute of limitations between three and six years  , meaning a debt collector can’t pursue payment. Dispute any negative items beyond the legally allowed reporting period.
If you suspect fraudulent accounts or identity theft, dispute the accounts immediately. Someone may have tried to open an account in your name, but you can challenge this issue easily with a credit dispute letter.
If you’re a victim of identity theft, you can use an affidavit of identity form to prove who you are.
What to Include in a Credit Dispute Letter
Be sure to include the following elements in a credit dispute letter:
Write your personal information in your letter, like your full name and mailing address. Include the primary address identifier, city, state, and ZIP code. This way, the credit bureau to whom you’re sending the letter can easily identify you and investigate your claim.
Provide your dispute information. Specify which item you’re disputing. You may dispute multiple items if necessary, but ensure to identify which ones so the credit bureau doesn’t think you’re disputing something accurate.
Explain the reason for your dispute(s) and provide documentation to support your claim.
Copies of Your Credit Report
Circle or highlight the disputed items on your credit report and attach a copy to your letter. This way, the credit bureau can easily see what you’re challenging.
How to Dispute an Item on a Credit Report
Disputing an item on your credit report involves a systematic process to increase your chances of success. These steps can help you challenge an item on your credit report:
Step 1 – Get Your Credit Report
Request a report from any of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. According to 15 U.S.C. § 1681j(a)(1)(A), you can receive one free report from each bureau annually, which you can obtain through AnnualCreditReport.com.
To obtain your credit report, you’ll provide the following information:
- Your name
- Your current address and any previous addresses, if applicable
- Your date of birth
- Your Social Security number (SSN)
Step 2 – Identify Potential Inaccuracies
Thoroughly review each report for any discrepancies or errors. Pay close attention to personal information, account details, and payment history. Some of the most common errors include late payments, duplicate entries, and outdated information.
Step 3 – Gather Evidence to Support Your Case
Gather all relevant materials that support your dispute. These materials may include account statements, receipts, correspondence with creditors, or other evidence proving the inaccuracy.
Compile the evidence into documents to easily submit them with your credit dispute claim and letter.
Step 4 – Create and Send Your Letter
Use a credit dispute letter template to draft your correspondence. Be concise about the items you are disputing and the reasons for your dispute. Include the date, source, and type of the item. Specify whether you want the bureau to correct or remove the items. Make sure to enclose copies of the supporting documentation.
Refrain from including unnecessary or irrelevant information, which could slow the review process.
Send the letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested to ensure delivery confirmation and to create a paper trail of your dispute.
Step 5 – Wait for the Response
The credit bureaus typically have 30 days to investigate your dispute. They will communicate with the creditor or information provider to verify the accuracy of the information. The credit bureau must update your credit report if the information is inaccurate.
If you provided additional information after your original claim, the bureau to whom you submitted your claim will have 15 more days to review your disputed items.
Where to Send Your Credit Dispute Letter
Review the contact information for the three major credit bureaus below:
Mail: TransUnion Consumer Solutions, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016
Dispute online: TransUnion online portal
Phone number: (800) 916-8800
Mail: Experian, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013
Dispute online: Experian online portal
Phone number: (888) 397-3742
Mail: Equifax Information Services, LLC, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374
Dispute online: Equifax online portal
Phone number: (866) 349-5191
How Else Can I Dispute a Debt?
While the credit dispute letter is an effective method for disputing errors, you can initiate a claim by requesting a validation of debt.
15 U.S.C § 1692g(b) states a debtor can inquire about the origin of a debt by writing and submitting a debt validation letter to the original creditor. If the debtholder can’t obtain the original creditor’s name and address within 30 days, the debtor can have the debt taken off their credit report.
You may also choose to pursue the following routes:
Wait Six Months from the Last Dispute
If the debtholder validates the debt by writing back with the original creditor’s information, you can consider waiting six months to try sending another debt validation letter.
Companies often sell their debts, so the new debtholder may not respond to your letter. Without a timely response, you can have the debt taken off your credit report.
Wait Seven Years for the Debt to Expire
15 U.S. Code § 1681(a)(4) states all debts expire after they’ve been on an individual’s credit report for seven years. After this period, you may have to submit an additional claim since the debt won’t remove itself automatically.
Credit Report Dispute Letter Sample
Viewing a sample letter can help you confidently challenge erroneous information on your credit report. Download our free credit report dispute letter template as a PDF or Word file to have as a guide:
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I avoid when writing a dispute letter?
When dealing with credit dispute letters, avoid submitting multiple disputes for the same item without providing new evidence or information, as it may lead the credit bureaus to dismiss your claims as frivolous.
Most importantly, avoid disputing accurate information on your credit report. Doing so can damage your credibility with the credit bureaus and make getting a genuine dispute resolved more challenging in the future. Before you challenge anything, ensure that the information is actually incorrect.
What should I do if the credit bureaus don’t correct my credit report?
If the credit bureaus don’t correct the inaccuracies after your dispute, you have several options:
- Request an investigation reconsideration. Contact the credit bureaus and provide additional evidence to support your claim.
- File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Submit a complaint with the CFPB, which oversees credit reporting agencies and may help to resolve the issue.
- Consult an attorney. If your attempts to correct your report are unsuccessful, consider seeking legal counsel to explore your options for further action.
How long does it take to resolve a credit report dispute?
The credit bureaus have 30 to 45 days to investigate your dispute. Sometimes, the process may take longer if the investigation is complex or requires additional verification from the creditor.
Once the investigation is complete, the credit agency will notify you of the results and any changes made to your credit report.
Will filing a dispute affect my credit score?
Filing a dispute won’t affect your credit score directly. Depending on the credit bureau’s findings, your score may increase or decrease if the bureau needs to add or remove items to your credit report. If you’re disputing personal information, like your name or street address, your credit score won’t change.