Here’s something you probably already know: You get a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You probably also know it’s important to regularly look at your credit reports to check them for accuracy.
That’s the easy part — when it comes to fixing problems on your credit reports, things can get a little confusing.
If you find something on your credit report you believe to be incorrect — like a late payment mark when you know you paid your creditor on time — you can dispute the error with the credit bureau.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to dispute each error individually and with each credit reporting agency. Sometimes the process can be time-consuming and tedious, but there are a few things that can help you succeed in correcting inaccurate or unfair information.
A Clearly Written Letter
Disputing an error on your credit report requires you to state what the error is and where it is on your credit report. Whether you’re writing a letter or filling out a dispute form online with the credit bureaus, make the explanation short and clear.
Whether you’re disputing the error online or by mail, you’re encouraged to send copies of documents supporting your dispute. If you can’t find a bill or statement that might help you clarify your dispute in your own records, you may want to reach out to your creditor and see if they can provide the account information you need.
In the case of an error that resulted from identity theft, you’ll want to provide a copy of the police report you filed. Here are some tips on dealing with identity theft.
Keep in mind that not all problems you might encounter with your credit reports are best addressed through the dispute process. Consumers have the right to ask questions of and negotiate with companies that supply information to the credit reporting agencies (aka, data furnishers), and familiarizing yourself with those rights can help you ensure your credit reports are a fair and accurate representation of your credit history. You can, of course, do this yourself for free, but that can sometimes be difficult and take a lot of time, so you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you fix your credit.
Want to learn more on the process of righting wrongs on your credit report? Credit.com, a top source of information and services focused on credit scoring, credit reporting, credit repair, and credit cards, has this excellent advice: