80% of credit reports have errors; How to dispute credit report errors

Tiffany Gray paid off her car years ago. That didn’t make the late payments negatively impacting her credit disappear from her credit report. Only filing a formal dispute made that happen. After so long, there was no reason for those missteps to still show up. Gray successfully saw that erased, as well as another error, and as a result saw her credit score shoot skyward.

Disputing credit errors can be a bit time consuming, but in the end it’s well worth the effort, Gray said.

“It’s something that’s free,” said Gray, 33 of Snellville. “If you’re unsure about anything on your credit report, it doesn’t hurt to dispute it. It was very easy.”

While the research is a bit dated, it’s unlikely the results have varied from a 2004 U.S. Public Interest Research Group survey that said 80 percent of credit reports contain errors. Your credit report can impact your ability to get good rates on loans, as well as the ability to get a job. Since errors may be reflected by some but not all reporting agencies, you should examine reports from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian closely. If you see mistakes, take these steps:

1. It’s not enough to just contact the credit bureau. You should also reach out to the creditor or company that reported you to the bureau. The company has to investigate your dispute and share its gatherings with the bureau. This is meant to expedite the process and improve accuracy.

2. Write a letter to the credit bureau describing the error and explaining clearly why it should be removed. Send copies — not originals — of documentation that would support your argument. Request the items be removed. Be sure to include your correct name and address. Send the letter certified with a return receipt request.

3. Write the company or creditor which sent the information to the credit bureau, using the address the company has provided for such claims. Be as specific as possible when detailing dates and amounts in dispute, and again, send supporting documentation. Under federal law passed in July 2009, the company, if provided with your correct contact information and account number, must investigate. It usually takes about 30 days. Ask that they send you a copy of everything they send to the credit bureau.

4. If the credit report does indeed have an error, request the corrected report be sent to everyone requesting it in the past six months.

Follow me on Twitter @atlbargains or on Facebook at AJC Atlanta Bargain Hunter

6 comments Add your comment

BongWater Slurpee

May 5th, 2010
12:17 pm

Uh…NO. Time is money so disputing credit card errors is not free.

street smart

May 5th, 2010
12:38 pm

So BONGWATER SLURPEE if time is money then everyone who goes to sleep at night is losing money? Anyone that sits down to eat breakfast, lunch & dinner is losing money. Having sex with your gf is losing money. Not fixing bad credit is losing money as is anyone who sits around and hits the bong all day drinking slurpees. Faaaaaaaaaar out dude

Credit Union CEO

May 5th, 2010
12:48 pm

Actually, the best way to correct items on your credit history is to dispute them online on each of the 3 credit bureau’s – each creditor line has a “dispute” button. That submits it electronically vs. snail mail + places it in the queue much quicker. Creditors then have 30 days to respond.


May 5th, 2010
1:12 pm

Street smart–fixing credit card mistakes when you should be working costs you money. You are not going to do when you’re sleeping, of course. And people are not going to do that when they’re having sex with your girlfriend


May 5th, 2010
1:48 pm

Just me

May 5th, 2010
1:52 pm

@ Credit Union CEO

Yep, thats how I do it. Done it at least three time with great results.