At the credit union where I work, we recently held a credit-report review day. We invited our members to stop in, obtain their free credit report, and discuss their report with one of our onsite financial counselors. Tons of members were interested in the service, which was great—it means people are thinking about what’s on their reports and want to understand them.
The event was a huge success, although we did have a few members who were concerned that some information on their reports may not be correct. What do you do, they asked, if you need to correct something on your credit report?
Well, the process is pretty straightforward. If you’ve checked your credit report lately (which you should be doing on a regular basis!) and noticed something that doesn’t look quite right, follow these steps to get the mix-up fixed:
- File a dispute online. It’s easy to make a claim through one of the websites of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Make sure you include the credit report number in your dispute. And remember, you must send in your dispute within 30 days of when you pulled your credit report.
- Sit back and wait. The credit bureau has to send your dispute to the party responsible for the error, such as a collections agency or lender. From there, the credit bureau has 30 to 45 days to let you know what they found, whether that means correcting the error or confirming that it is actually accurate information.
- React accordingly. If everyone agrees that your dispute is valid, congratulations! The error will be corrected on your credit report. If the credit bureau claims the information is accurate, you can try taking your dispute directly to the responsible party (again, the collections agency or lender). That party has another 30 days to respond to your request.
If the other party still claims the item you’re disputing is correct, you still have options. You can ask for a notation on your credit report stating that you dispute the information. Just make sure you include a letter of explanation whenever you need to do any big-ticket borrowing, such as for a mortgage or car.