How do I dispute inaccurate Equifax, Trans Union, or Experian credit reports?

Mail a written credit dispute letter along with supporting documentation to the credit reporting agency that reports the inaccurate information.  The letter should include your identifying information (name, date of birth, social security number) , an identification of the inaccurate information, a description why the information is inaccurate, and any documents that support why the information reported is inaccurate.  If you wish to discuss your letter before mailing it to the credit reporting agency, please call me at 703-390-2905. 

The reason you want to send this is information is related to the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  Under the FCRA, a consumer must initiate the dispute of an inaccurate credit report directly through a credit reporting agency (CRA) in order to trigger the liability provisions of the act. This means that you must send your credit report dispute letter including documents related to your dispute to the credit reporting agency (typically Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian). You may also want to provide a copy of the dispute to the furnisher of the incorrect information, but providing the information directly to the furnisher will not trigger your right to file a lawsuit.  After the CRA receives the dispute, it has a duty to send a notice of the dispute to the furnisher of the information.  Under the FCRA, both a CRA and a furnisher have a duty to conduct a “reasonable investigation” of the information that you have disputed.  Because reasonableness can often be in the eye of the beholder, certain information will increase the chances that an investigation of your credit report dispute will be resolved in your favor.

First, a good dispute letter should clearly identify your name, address, social security number, and date of birth.  By providing this information, you reduce the chance that the CRA can claim that they could not locate your credit information in their data base.

Second, you should clearly identify the account(s) that you are disputing as well as describe the facts supporting your position why the credit reporting is incorrect.  Often times a CRA can claim that they do not want to resolve disputes between you and a third party furrnisher.  To minimize this argument, you can identify the facts that demonstrate why your position is clearly correct and reference as many documents as necessary to demonstrate why the information reported is inaccurate.  You should also include the supporting documentation as part of your dispute package. Letters, invoices, and/or contracts involving the furnisher of disputed information can make for good proof of your argument.  In the event that you are a victim of identity theft, you should also include an identity theft affidavit, police report, and/or identification of the police report number with the investigating officer named.  For information about dealing with the affects of identity theft, please review this post on what to do if you are an identity theft victim.

Third, include a statement that describes how the inaccurate credit reporting is hurting you and request that the CRA take immediate action to solve your problem.  Whether that means correcting an inaccurate account, deleting a judgment that is not yours, or removing a false criminal conviction from an inaccurate employment credit report, you should request that the CRA stop reporting the inaccurate information.  If you have lost a job because of an inaccurate employment credit report or lost a mortgage because of an inaccurate credit report, I would tell the CRA the details in the dispute letter.

Finally, I recommend that you personally sign your letter, make a copy of the signed letter including the attachments for your records, and mail the letter via both first class mail and certified mail return receipt requested.  The Federal Trade Commission also publishes information that you can consult when disputing inaccurate information which is located at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre21.pdf.  If you ever have any questions, you can also contact me.

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