Disputing Your Credit Report


The Federal Credit Reporting Act states that the credit reporting agency and the company, person, or organization that sends information about you to a credit reporting agency are responsible for correcting incomplete or inaccurate information in your credit report. To take all of the advantages of your consumer legal rights under this law, contact the credit reporting agency and the information provider.

First, explain the situation to the credit reporting agency, in writing, what information is incorrect on your credit report. By law, they must investigate the items that you believe are wrong. This usually takes up to thirty days, unless they consider your dispute to be false in nature. They also must provide the relevant data you provided them about the inaccurate information to the company or organization that provided that information. After the company receives the notice of dispute from the credit reporting agency, they are required to investigate and review the information provided to them and then send the results back to the credit reporting company. If they discover that the disputed information is incorrect, they must provide the findings to all three nationwide credit reporting agency so they can correct the information in your credit report file. After the investigation is done, the credit reporting agency must provide you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a correction. (This free report does not count as your annual free credt report under the Federal Credit Reporting Act.) If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting agency can't add the disputed information back in your credit file unless the provider of the information verifies that it is accurate and complete. The credit reporting agency must also send you a written notice that includes the name, address, and the phone number of the provider of the information.

Second, tell the creditor by writing them that you dispute a reported item. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a credit reporting agency, it must state a notice of your dispute. If the information you disputed is found to be a inaccuracy, the information provider may not report it again.

What can I do if the credit reporting agency or information provider won't correct the information I disputed?

If the investigation does not resolve your dispute with the credit reporting agency, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your credit report file. You may also ask them to provide your statement to anyone who requested a copy of your credit report in the recent past. You can expect to be charged for this service. If you tell the information provider that you dispute an inaccurate item, a notice of your dispute must be included any time the information provider reports that item to a credit reporting agency.

How long can a credit reporting agency report negative information?

A credit reporting agency can report most accurate negative information for a time period of seven years and bankruptcy information for ten years. There is no set time limit on reporting information about criminal convictions, information reported in response to a application for a job that pays more than seventy five thousand dollars a year, and information reported because you have applied for more than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of credit or for a life insurance policy. Information about a lawsuit or a judgment against you that remains unpaid can be reported for a seven year period or until the Statute Of Limitations runs out, whichever is the longest.

To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, you may want to contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by email or calling them toll-free at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.

You may also want to read Repairing Credit After Identity Theft

Although all information has been written in good faith and reviewed, please email us at [email protected] to report any inaccuracies.