Common Credit Report Errors and How to Dispute Them

By Emma Diehl · June 13, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Common Credit Report Errors and How to Dispute Them

Your credit report is an important document: It contains an in-depth record of how you’ve used credit in the past, and it can have a big impact on your life.

For example, when you apply for a loan, lenders usually check your credit report. That information contributes to their decision whether to lend to you, as well as what interest rate to charge.

You might also have your credit checked by potential employers or when you are applying to get a mobile phone, rent a home, or perhaps connect some utilities.

Since credit reports can be so critical to many aspects of your life, it’s quite important that they be accurate.
Unfortunately, these reports can have more errors than you may realize. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), one in five people have an error on at least one of their credit reports. Even minor issues could impact your score and have a ripple effect on your financial life.

So, with that in mind, read on to learn how you can check your report and work to correct any errors you might find.

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Getting a Credit Report

Like going in for a check-up once a year can benefit your physical health, regular credit report check-ups can benefit your financial health.

Everyone is entitled to see their credit reports for free once a year at the government-mandated
AnnualCreditReport.com site.

It’s a good idea to take full advantage of this service, and to look over your reports from the three major credit reporting bureaus annually.

Checking your credit report regularly can also make it easier to notice when the numbers look off or if something’s amiss. This could help you catch fraudulent activity.

Recommended: What’s the Difference Between a Soft and Hard Credit Check?

Scanning a Credit Report

The best way to find an error in a credit report is to read through it thoroughly.

The CFPB recommends making sure that the following information is accurate:

•   Name

•   Social Security number

•   Current address

•   Current phone number

•   Previous addresses

•   Employment history (names, dates, locations)

•   Current bank accounts open

•   Bank account balances

•   Joint accounts

•   Accounts closed.

If any of the above is incorrect, the report has an error that you may want to dispute.

Common Credit Report Errors

While there are any number of errors that could crop up on a credit report, some are more likely than others. According to the CFPB, these are among the most common:

•  Typos or wrong information. In the personal information section, names could be misspelled, or addresses could just be plain wrong.

•  A similar name is assigned to your report. Instead of a typo, the credit report might be pulling in accounts and information of a person with a similar name to yours.

•  Wrong accounts. If an account is in your name but unfamiliar to you, this could be proof of identity theft.

•  Closed accounts are still open. You may have closed a savings account or credit card recently, but the report shows it as still open.

•  Being labeled “owner” instead of a user on a joint account. If you’re simply an authorized user on a joint account or credit card, your credit report should reflect that.

•  False late payment. A credit report might show a late or delinquent payment when the account was paid on time.

•  Duplicate debts or accounts. Listing an account twice could make it look like more debt is owed, resulting in an incorrect credit report.

•  Incorrect balances. Account balances might show incorrect amounts.

•  Wrong credit limits. Misreported limits on credit card accounts can impact a credit score, even if they’re only off by a few hundred dollars.

How to Report an Error

Errors on credit reports don’t typically fix themselves. Account owners often have to be the ones to bring the error to the credit bureau’s attention.

Here are steps to take if you find an error in one of your reports.

1. Confirming the error is present on other credit reports.
Credit scores may vary across credit reporting bureaus, but all the core information should be the same. That means if there’s an error on one, it’s best to check that it’s on the other two. You can order free reports from all three bureaus–Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion–from the free Annual Report Site , and check each report against the others.

2. Gathering evidence.
To prove an element of the credit report is wrong, there needs to be evidence to the contrary. That means you’ll want to collect supporting documentation that shows the report has an error, whether that’s a recent bank statement, ID, or a loan document. Having this documentation on hand can make the process move faster.

3. Reporting the error to the credit reporting company.
To resolve the error, you’ll want to file a formal dispute with the credit reporting company. You can contact them by mail, phone, or online. The CFPB offers more details on how to file a dispute.

It’s important to make sure to include all documentation of the error, in addition to proper identification.

Here’s how to contact each credit reporting company:

Equifax

Online: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-dispute/

Mail:

Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30348

Phone: (866) 349-5191

Experian

Online: https://www.experian.com/disputes/main.html

Mail:

Experian
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013

Phone: (888) 397-3742

Transunion

Online: https://service.transunion.com/dss/login.page?dest=dispute

Mail:

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Dispute Center
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

Phone: (800) 916-8800

4. Contacting the furnisher (if applicable).
A furnisher is a company that gave the credit reporting bureau information for the report. If the report’s mistake is an error from a bank or credit card company, you can also reach out to the furnisher to amend its mistake. You can contact the company through the mail (the address can be found on the credit report), or reach out to customer service by phone or online.

If the furnisher corrects the mistake, it could, in turn, update the credit report. But, to play it safe, reach out to both parties.

5. Reaching out to the FTC to report identity theft (if applicable).
If you notice an error that suggests identity theft (such as unknown accounts or unfamiliar debt), it’s a good idea to sign up with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) IdentityTheft.gov site in addition to alerting the credit bureaus. The FTC’s tool can help users create a recovery plan and figure out the next steps.

6. Sitting tight and waiting for a response.
Once someone sends a credit dispute to a bureau or furnisher, they can expect to hear back within 30 days, typically by mail.

When a credit bureau receives a dispute, they have one of two choices: agree or disagree. If the bureau agrees, they will correct the error and send a new credit report.

If the bureau disagrees and doesn’t believe there’s an error, they won’t remove it from the report. In some cases, they may not agree there’s an error because there’s a delay in information getting to them.For example, a recently canceled credit card might not show up as canceled in their records yet. Changes like that might take some time.

However, if you’re confident of the error and a credit bureau doesn’t agree, that’s not your last stop.

You can also reach out to the CFPB to file an official complaint . The complaint should include all documentation of the dispute. Once the CFPB receives the complaint, you can keep track of its progress on the organization’s website.

The Takeaway

Checking your credit reports can help you ensure that the information is used to calculate your credit scores is accurate and up to date. It can also tip you off to fraud or identity theft

It’s easy and free to gain access to your credit reports from the three major bureaus once a year. Taking advantage of this service (and reporting any errors you may come across) can be key to maintaining good credit, and good overall financial health.

Another way to maintain good financial health is to pay your bills on time (which can boost your credit score), and to keep track of your spending. Signing up for SoFi Checking and Savings® Account can help with both.

A SoFi Checking and Savings Account lets you track your weekly spending right in the app, as well as set up individual or recurring bill payments to make sure they’re on time. You’ll also earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) to help your money grow.

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