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How to Correct an Error on Your Credit Report (and Help Your Credit Score)

A step-by-step guide on how to correct different types of errors on your credit report to boost your credit score.

Jacob Palmer

Contributing Writer at Tally

September 9, 2022

How to Correct an Error on Your Credit Report (and Help Your Credit Score)

If you’ve been applying for credit lately but have been finding it harder than ever to get approved, it might not necessarily be your fault. Sometimes, the reason for your rejection could be that there are errors on your credit report that are hurting your score. Credit report errors are actually very common. In a recent Consumer Reports study of 6,000 participants, 34% of them found at least one error on their credit report.

So, what do you do if you find an error on your credit report? First and foremost, don’t panic. The good news is, there’s a way to correct any error you find on your credit report. Read on to learn how. 

How to correct an error on your credit report

To correct an error on your credit report, follow this simple, four-step process.

Step 1: Check your credit report for errors

If you suspect there’s an error on your report that's negatively affecting your score, the first step towards correcting the error is getting copies of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. The three agencies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every 12 months. 

The quickest, and often simplest, way to obtain a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus is to go to

Remember: Every creditor is not required to report to every credit bureau. That means a credit report error could be on one of your reports and not the others — or a variation of that. Obtain copies of all three of your credit reports to ensure you’re working with a complete picture. Requesting your credit report won’t affect your credit score because it is considered a "soft" check.

Once you have all of your credit reports, go through each, line by line to see if there are any mistakes. If you come across any suspicious information, check the other two reports to see if it’s appearing in them as well.

Here are a few of themost common errors on credit reports that you should be on the lookout for:

  • Incorrect account numbers

  • Outdated information that negatively affects your score (more than seven years old, not including bankruptcy-related issues)

  • Payments marked as late that were actually paid on time (which causes your account to be markeddelinquent)

  • Wrong account balances on loans or credit limits

  • Someone else's name on a credit card or loan

  • Accounts that don’t belong to you

Some of these things—like an account you don’t remember authorizing or anything linked to an unfamiliar address—are signs of identity theft. When you notice these types of credit report errors, you should dispute them as soon as possible.

Step 2: Gather relevant materials to dispute errors

Before you launch a dispute or challenge with the credit bureau or lender responsible for the error on your credit report, collect information or evidence that supports your case.

The kind of information or evidence you need will vary from case to case, but typically, it might include:

  • Credit card or bank statements

  • Payment receipts

  •  Printed copies of emails or letters of correspondence with creditors

  •  A police report or a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report in cases where someone has fraudulently opened an account using your personal info

Step 3: File your dispute with the credit bureau

When it comes to how to correct an error on your credit report, there are several ways to dispute it with a credit bureau. You can call, write a letter or submit it online.

If you want to do it online, Equifax,Experian and TransUnion all have online portals to address these types of problems. That’s likely the most efficient option.

Be prepared to provide additional information when disputing an error:

  • Full name

  • Social security number

  • Government ID

  • Date of birth

  • Addresses of the last two years

  • Copy of an official bill (utility or insurance statement) 

Keep in mind, when you’re disputing a claim, you should never have to pay fees of any kind.

You can also dispute an error on your Equifax, Experian or TransUnion credit report by mail. Send a letter to the relevant credit bureau explaining why the information is wrong and why it should be corrected.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a sample letter that you can use to file your dispute. As part of your dispute, make sure to include a copy of your credit report with the error clearly highlighted.

The final way to dispute a credit report error is by calling the credit bureau directly. However, it’s possible that you’ll not be able to resolve the dispute completely online. In that case, the bureau will advise you to use their online complaints portal or write them a letter.

Once you've filed your complaint, the credit reporting agencies will respond to your claim within 30 days, unless they deem it "frivolous." They’ll only do that if it’s actually frivolous. An example of a frivolous claim is disputing correct information or something that doesn’t actually affect your score.

If the bureau agrees that it’s an error, they’ll remove the item and send you a copy of your new credit report.

Step 4: File your dispute with the lender that supplied the info

Apart from disputing your error with the credit bureau, the FTC recommends that you also dispute the error with the lender or the original business that supplied the information — like acredit card company. 

The commission has provided asample letter you can use to launch your challenge with a lender. Again, be sure to send a copy of your credit report with the error clearly marked. If you can't find the lender's address on your credit report or online, you can call the credit bureau and ask them to provide it.

The lender has 30-45 days to respond to your dispute and then take the necessary corrective action, which involves contacting all credit bureaus and asking for your record to be updated.

Protect yourself against credit errors

One good safeguard against a credit report error is setting up a fraud alert with one of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. This basically instructs anyone receiving a credit application in your name to take extra steps to verify your identity before they process the application.

Setting up an alert with one agency will trigger an alert for all three. You can do this by calling, emailing or writing to them.

Another way to stay on top of your credit report is to subscribe to a credit monitoring service. A good credit monitoring service will alert you of any changes to your credit report and score so you can address any potential problems quickly.

Bottom Line

It’s easy to correct an error on your credit report, so don’t panic when you find one. Build your case by gathering relevant supporting evidence of the error, and then dispute it with the credit bureau and the lender that supplied your information. Both will have to prove that the disputed item is accurate, and if they can’t, they will have to remove it from your record.