How To Dispute a Credit Report

See errors on your credit report? Removing them could improve your score.

By
&
Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated on Jun 30, 2021
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on Jun 30, 2021

According to a study from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 5 percent of consumers in the U.S. have errors on one of their credit reports from the three major bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. As credit scores impact what car you can lease, what apartment you can rent, and what loans you can obtain, errors could seriously affect your life. Here’s how to dispute errors on your credit report and get it back to normal.

How To Dispute a Credit Report

To dispute an error on your credit report, contact the bureau behind the inaccurate report.

How To Submit Your Dispute

You can submit your dispute over the phone, online, or by mail. We recommend doing it online for the fastest results.

Contact method Experian TransUnion Equifax
Phone (888) 397-3742 or number on the credit report (800) 916-8800 (866) 349-5191 or number on the credit report
URL https://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html https://service.transunion.com/dss/login.page?dest=dispute https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-dispute/
Dispute form link https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/wp-content/themes/exp/pdf/dispute-form.pdf https://www.transunion.com/docs/rev/personal/InvestigationRequest.pdf N/A
Mailing address Experian
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion LLC
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30348
Information you’ll need to provide Full name
Date of birth
Social Security number
All addresses where you’ve lived within the past two years
A copy of a government-issued ID card (driver’s license, state ID, etc.)
Copy of a utility bill, insurance, or bank statement
Full name
File number
Address
Phone number
Employer
Social Security number
Date of birth
Driver’s license number
Full name
Date of birth
Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN)
Phone number
Address
Driver’s license copy
Utility bill copy
Birth certificate copy
Email address

Information You’ll Need To Provide

In addition to the above, be prepared with the following information:

  • Report confirmation number
  • Each mistake
  • Account numbers for disputed accounts
  • Why you are disputing this information
  • A copy of your credit report with the dispute, which you should highlight or circle
  • Copies of any documents that support your argument1

What You Can Dispute

You can dispute information that you think isn’t accurate, such as an incorrect name, an account that you closed that’s being reported as open, and false balances.

Type of information Specific errors
Identity Names, numbers, addresses, accounts with owners with the same or similar names, fraudulent accounts
Account status Closed accounts reported as open, reported as owner vs. authorized user of account, late/delinquent accounts, wrong dates of last payments, wrong date opened or date of first delinquency, same debt listed multiple times
Data management Reinsertion of inaccurate information, accounts that appear more than once with different creditors listed
Balance errors Accounts with false current balances, credit limits

The dispute process will determine whether or not the dispute is accurate. You won’t be able to remove accurate information from your report, and negative information can stay on for a minimum of seven years.

Did You Know: A bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years. Even after that, it may remain on file and be reported if you apply for a job that pays over $75,000 annually or for more than $150,000 of life insurance or credit.

How the Dispute Process Works

Once the bureau receives your dispute, it will forward all the documents to the furnisher, who provided the information on your credit report. Once the furnisher responds, the bureau will report back to you, unless the claim is considered frivolous. In any case, the bureau will determine whether the dispute is accurate and will change or not change your report accordingly.

Tracking the Status

Here’s how to keep track of what’s happening with your dispute with all three credit reporting bureaus.

Equifax:

  1. Log in to your myEquifax account.
  2. Click “Check Status of a Dispute.”
  3. Alternatively, mail or phone them using the above contact information, but make sure you have the confirmation number you got when you submitted your dispute.2

TransUnion:

  1. Log in to check the status of the dispute.3

Experian:

  1. Sign in to your account.
  2. Go to the Dispute Center online to view the results.
  3. They’ll also alert you when there’s progress.4

Possible Dispute Outcomes

After you submit your dispute, there are three possible outcomes:

  1. Frivolous: If the credit bureau thinks your dispute is frivolous, they’ll let you know within five days and your report won’t change.
  2. Accepted: If your dispute is accepted, the bureau will change your report, fixing the error.
  3. Not accepted: If your dispute is not accepted, the information will remain on your credit report. From here, you can reach out to the creditor directly for more information, as the correspondence won’t be listed on your report. We recommend placing a 100-word statement explaining the dispute in your credit file; there, you can explain any circumstances, like an illness or a bout of unemployment, that led to the negative information.5

How Long Disputes Take

Once the credit bureau receives your dispute, they must investigate it within 30 days. The investigation can take 30 to 45 days, and once the results are in, the bureau has five business days to notify you of the results. All in all, you can expect the answer within about two months of submitting your dispute.

Does Disputing Impact My Credit?

Merely filing a dispute won’t affect your credit score at all. However, if the bureau removes negative information from your credit report, your credit score could improve. Of course, it’ll only remove negative information if it’s inaccurate. If the bureau changes neutral information, like a misspelling of your name, your score won’t change.6

How Can Errors on Credit Reports Affect You?

Remember that FTC study that found 5 percent of Americans had errors on their credit reports? This means that 5 percent of people paid more than necessary on products like insurance and auto loans,7 undeniably non-negligible expenses. Bad credit scores can also affect the following for you:

  • Loans
  • Credit cards
  • Jobs
  • Apartments
  • Buying/leasing cars
  • Rental/home insurance8

The quicker you dispute inaccurate information on your credit report, the sooner your score can improve — if your dispute is accurate, that is.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve settled (or not settled) that dispute, here are the best practices for dealing with your credit:

NOTE: A fraud alert will prevent creditors from viewing your report, thereby preventing identity thieves from using your personally identifiable information to take out loans, lease cars, etc.

Summary

Best-case scenario, you disputed inaccurate information on your credit report, the credit reporting company removed it, and your credit score went up, allowing you access to low-interest loans, exclusive apartments, and car leases galore. But this isn’t always the case. In some cases, you won’t be able to get this information removed, because the bureau believes it to be accurate.

But don’t fret. There are other ways you can improve your credit score besides disputing the information. Remember, it’s not set in stone!

FAQs

Still have some questions about credit disputes? We’ve got it covered.

  • What is the best way to dispute items on your credit report?

    The best way to dispute items on your credit report is to contact the bureau that reported the items by phone, by mail, or online.

    Method of contact Equifax Experian TransUnion
    Mailing address Equifax Information Services LLC
    P.O. Box 740256
    Atlanta, GA 30348
    Experian
    P.O. Box 4500
    Allen, TX 75013
    TransUnion LLC
    Consumer Dispute Center
    P.O. Box 2000
    Chester, PA 19016
    Phone number (866) 349-5191 or number on the credit report (888) 397-3742 or number on the credit report (800) 916-8800
    Webpage address https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-dispute/ https://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html https://service.transunion.com/dss/login.page?dest=dispute
  • How do you dispute something on your credit report online?

    To dispute something on your credit report on the web, go to the following websites and submit a dispute online:

    • Experian: https://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html
    • TransUnion: https://service.transunion.com/dss/login.page?dest=dispute
    • Equifax: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-dispute/
  • Does disputing hurt your credit?

    Disputing your credit report does not hurt your credit; the actual dispute won’t affect your credit at all. If your dispute is found to be accurate, your score could actually improve after inaccurate, negative information is removed.

  • What is the best reason to dispute credit?

    The best reason to dispute your credit report is inaccurate information affecting your credit score negatively. It’s less worthwhile to dispute accurate information, or inaccurate information that won’t affect your score, like a misspelling of your name.

Citations
  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2019). How do I dispute an error on my credit report?
    consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/how-do-i-dispute-an-error-on-my-credit-report-en-314/

  2. myEquifax Sign In Page.
    my.equifax.com/membercenter/

  3. TransUnion Login Page.
    service.transunion.com/dss/login.page

  4. Experian Login Page.
    usa.experian.com/login/index?it=dsp&br=exp

  5. Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. (2019). Dealing with Negative Information and Errors on Your Credit Report.
    privacyrights.org/resources/dealing-negative-information-and-errors-your-credit-report

  6. Experian. (2020). Can Credit Report Disputes Lower Credit Scores?
    experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/can-disputing-credit-report-inaccuracies-lower-credit-scores/

  7. Federal Trade Commission. (2013). In FTC Study, Five Percent of Consumers Had Errors on Their Credit Reports That Could Result in Less Favorable Terms for Loans.
    ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2013/02/ftc-study-five-percent-consumers-had-errors-their-credit-reports

  8. Federal Trade Commission – Consumer Information. Understanding Your Credit.
    consumer.ftc.gov/articles/understanding-your-credit