The Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 requires credit bureaus to correct errors that could be pulling down your credit score.
However, it’s up to you to get in touch with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion to ask these bureaus to remove items they cannot validate.
These credit report disputes take time, and I recommend writing the bureaus rather than calling or filling out forms online. That way you’ll have a written record of your correspondence.
This post offers a sample letter to help get you started. You can use this letter to dispute negative information on your credit report with the credit bureaus or with your creditor itself.
The key to this method is specifically listing out each inaccuracy in detail so each disputed item has to be verified by the agency.
Sample Credit Dispute Letter
- Replace all the highlighted fields in the letter template with your own personal information.
- If contacting a collection agency, include the original account number.
- Also include any account number assigned by the collection agency–this number will be on one of your collection letters.
- Replace the examples in this letter with the actual errors you found–do not simply send this letter, as you will need to add information related to your particular circumstances.
- Remove highlighting.
- Copy and paste everything below the dotted line into a new document.
- Print and sign before mailing.
[Original creditor name (or name of collection agency if account was sold) or the credit bureau’s name]
City, State, ZIP]
To Whom It May Concern (or Dear Sirs and Madams if you prefer):
In a recent review of my credit report, I have noticed some errors. Please make the following changes:
[Account name], account # [account number]
Example 1: The Date of First Delinquency with the original creditor is not provided. Please provide this.
Example 2: The end of the seven-year reporting is not listed. Please provide this.
Example 3: Credit Limit is not listed. Please provide this.
Example 4: Date of Major Delinquency is not listed. Please provide this.
Example 5: Actual Payment Amount is incorrect. Please correct or remove this.
[Account name], account # [account number]
Example 6: The Date of Major Delinquency is not listed. Please provide this.
Example 7: Charge Off Amount is not provided. Please provide this.
Example 8: Incorrect Account Status. Please correct or remove this.
In the event that you cannot verify the details and/or provide the requested information, kindly remove these damaging accounts from my credit report.
If you can verify the information you have listed as accurate, please provide the name of the person supplying this data as well as the manner in which it was provided in order that I may pursue additional remedies.
Your City, STATE & ZIP]
Where Do I Mail Credit Dispute Letters?
Mail this letter to your creditor (credit card company, student loan servicer, etc.) or to any of the three credit bureaus which have inaccurate information on your credit report.
Addresses For The Three Main Credit Bureaus:
- Experian: Dispute Department, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013.
- Equifax: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374.
- TransUnion: TransUnion Consumer Solutions, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016.
I recommend sending these letters via registered mail. This will cost more and require a trip to the post office in most cases.
But you’ll get a return receipt which tells you when the agency received your letter.
Ask the Pros if Necessary
Credit Dispute Letter FAQs
Can I Fill Out a Credit Dispute Form Online?
The leading credit bureaus have created online forms to help consumers try to change their credit histories by disputing items. You’ll need to enter your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number to start the process.
Some bureaus ask for your driver’s license number and date of birth, too.
Online dispute services offer the advantage of tracking your request just like you’d track a package you’d ordered from Amazon or another retailer.
I still recommend sending physical letters in the mail, though. Yes, disputing inaccuracies online is quick and easy, but you’re putting the credit bureau in control of the process. By sending a letter you’re setting the terms of the correspondence.
What Type of Items Can I Dispute?
Creditors and credit reporting companies have a legal responsibility through the Fair Credit Reporting Act to fix inaccuracies in your credit file. Most of the time fixing inaccuracies will improve your credit score.
However, the credit bureaus will not change data that has been reported correctly. The FCRA does require them to validate the items on your free credit report, though. So you should get a response.
Often, late payments are reported incorrectly to the credit bureaus, especially if there was a misunderstanding with your creditor which resulted in the negative item on your credit report.
You can even dispute an address, a name, or other personal information.
Will Resolving Disputed Information Help My FICO Score?
Most banks and lenders, especially mortgage lenders, use your FICO score to determine credit eligibility. FICO (formerly called the Fair Isaac Corp.) gets data from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
Fixing credit report errors at any and all of the three bureaus can improve your FICO score.
One credit report dispute letter probably won’t fix your FICO score but sending a letter to each of the three credit bureaus could have an impact within a few months.
How Long Will It Take To Fix Credit Report Errors?
Nothing happens overnight with credit reporting agencies or with creditors. When you’ve sent your letters, expect to wait at least a few weeks for a response. The bureaus should respond with validation of the credit accounts listed in your credit history.
If the agency finds errors in your credit report, it can fix the errors quickly, but the impact of these changes to your payment records could still take a few weeks to be reflected in reports lenders receive when you apply for a loan.
The Importance of Monitoring Your Credit
This is one reason it’s so important to monitor your credit history every month. If you learn about a problem only after applying for a mortgage or another important loan, chances are good the problem won’t be fixed quickly enough to avoid a negative impact on your current loan application.
Your credit score can even impact your utility bills since public works departments often charge security deposits to residents with shakier credit histories.
Once a year you’re entitled to a free credit report from each credit reporting agency. The easiest way I know to get a copy of your credit report is through annualcreditreport.com which lets you get all three reports at once.
You can also monitor your credit using a service like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. These apps can alert you when your score decreases or increases. They’ll also try to sell you credit cards via email but this is a small price to pay for such an easy way to monitor your credit.
What Do I Do If Credit Bureaus Don’t Help?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires the credit bureaus to at least validate your debt, so you should get a response back from your letters.
If you don’t, or if you find the agencies unresponsive to your specific requests, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulates the credit reporting process and enforces the FCRA.
Credit repair methods of any sort — sending letters, appealing to the FTC, or disputing information online or over the phone — will help only if the credit agencies and/or the original creditors agree that the disputed information is inaccurate.
This can get really tricky with identity theft cases. If someone else opens credit accounts in your name it can be difficult to prove the disputed items inaccurate. You may need court documents to help prove you didn’t open accounts.
You should freeze your credit report as soon as you learn about the identity theft to prevent further damage.
Here are the addresses for the fraud departments at the three credit bureaus:
Equifax Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30374
Phone number: 800-525-6285
Experian Fraud Center
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
Phone number: 888-397-3742
TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Phone number: 888-909-8872
Disclaimer: These letters are provided for your information only and are not intended to be legal advice. You are responsible for all content and all consequences if you adapt these template letters for your personal use. As with all legal matters, if you have concerns about the potential legal consequences of sending a goodwill letter, you should consult with a licensed attorney.