How to dispute credit report errors for free

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It’s entirely common to find an error on your credit report — but here’s the good news: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to dispute incorrect or inaccurate items on your credit report. While there are plenty of companies out there that will charge you to dispute credit errors on your behalf, you don’t need to pay someone to carry out the dispute process.

First, you’ll want to check all three credit reports from each of the primary credit reporting agencies (CRAs) –– Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Each CRA operates independently from one another and may have different information, so it’s important to check all three.

What’s next after you’ve spotted errors? There are a couple of options.

Dispute an error on your own

Each of the three primary CRAs allows disputes to be submitted via mail, by phone, or online. Remember, each of your credit reports may contain different information. You will only need to submit a dispute to the particular CRA reporting the incorrect information.

Experian

  • Mail: Send a dispute letter and copies of supporting documents to:
    Experian
    P.O. Box 4500
    Allen, TX 75013
  • Phone: To dispute by phone you will need to call the number provided on your Experian credit report. You can request an Experian credit report by calling 866-200-6020.
  • Online: Create an account and follow the prompts here. 

Equifax

  • Mail: Send a dispute letter and copies of supporting documents to:
    Equifax Information Services, LLC
    P.O. Box 740256
    Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
  • Phone: Call 866-349-5191
  • Online: Create an account and follow the prompts here. 

TransUnion 

  • Mail: Send a dispute letter and copies of supporting documents to:
    TransUnion Consumer Solutions
    P.O. Box 2000
    Chester, PA 19016-2000
  • Phone: Call (800)-916-8800
  • Online: Create an account and follow the prompts here. 

While all three CRAs have online forms, you may decide to write a credit dispute letter in order to ensure all supporting information is provided with your dispute. 

How do I write a credit dispute letter?

This letter is going to serve as your proof that something is wrong on your credit report. Therefore it’s imperative that it be clear, direct, and detailed. And format matters as well.

For those who haven’t seen a properly formatted letter in years (or perhaps ever, depending on your age), here’s a sample credit report dispute letter the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has on its website:

credit report dispute letter

Looking for additional credit dispute letter templates? You can find them here and here. If your dispute is related to identity theft or fraud, you can use the credit dispute letter template here.

Credit dispute letters that work generally have a few things in common. First, the body of your dispute letter, includes:

  • The item on the credit report that you’re disputing
    Identify the exact item you believe is inaccurate, using the name of the creditor responsible for the information (like U.S. Bank, for instance).
  • What type of item you’re disputing
    This could be a credit account, judgement, or bankruptcy, just to name a few.
  • An explanation of whether the item is inaccurate or incomplete and why
    Be as clear and precise with this explanation as possible.
  • The change you wish to see on your credit report
    State whether you believe the item should be removed or edited. If it should be edited, explain how.
  • A request that the issue be resolved

In addition to sending your credit report dispute letter to the CRA reporting the error, you may want to consider sending a letter to the data furnisher as well. The data furnisher is the entity who supplied the information to the CRA in the first place (a lender, creditor, landlord, etc.). The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers tips as well as a template for creating this letter. 

Try a free tool

Credit Karma’s Direct Dispute® feature 

If you are looking for a little extra help, Credit Karma currently offers the only truly free tool to make a direct dispute.

By setting up an account you can access both your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports for free. If you spot an error on your TransUnion credit report, you can answer a few simple questions about the information in question and Credit Karma will submit the dispute to TransUnion on your behalf. TransUnion will then conduct an investigation into the dispute and provide their results, generally within 30 days.

While Credit Karma doesn’t offer the same service for errors found on your Equifax credit report, you can submit a dispute directly to Equifax on your own (more on that below).

The bottom line

Credit report errors can be costly –– potentially resulting in higher interest rates, additional fees, or even flat out denial of credit, rentals, and more. Luckily, you can avoid paying the price of these errors by regularly checking your credit report and immediately submitting a dispute to the CRA in question –– all for free.

Image Credit: tommaso79 / iStock

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