A credit report dispute letter is a one (1) page document sent to the major credit reporting bureaus to request incorrect information on a credit report be removed. Having inaccuracies and old entries from one’s credit report deleted are important steps in improving one’s credit score, allowing borrowers to get the best possible terms when shopping for loans.
Consumers can request the following types of debt to be removed from their report:
- Wrongly listed debt;
- Debt that has already been paid in full;
- Incorrect/unjust late payment(s);
- Debt that is older than seven (7) years;
- Foreclosures older than seven (7) years; and
- Bankruptcies older than 7-10 years;
The steps below outline the process one needs to take in order to challenge an item on a credit report:
Step 1 – Receive your Credit Report
It’s recommended that a consumer obtain their credit report prior to applying for a major loan (such as a mortgage), taking steps to repair their credit, or after being denied credit. All citizens have the right to obtain one (1) free credit report a year from the three (3) of the major credit reporting bureaus. To obtain the report(s), go to AnnualCreditReport.com and click “Request your credit reports”.
Step 2 – Look for Inaccuracies
Examine the report(s) line-by-line, while looking for:
- Debt that isn’t yours (falsely listed);
- Late payments that
- Debt/foreclosures/bankruptcies that are older than seven (7) years; and
- Debt that’s already been paid off.
If the debt is questionable whatsoever, it’s in the best interests of the consumer to report it, as there are no consequences or penalties for doing so.
Step 3 – Gather Evidence
The consumer should go through old receipts, mail, documents, and any other notation that supports the consumer’s claim. For example, if the consumer is reporting a debt that is over seven (7) years old, they should locate documentation relating to the debt that is dated to at least seven (7) years in the past. If the consumer will be mailing in their dispute, they should not include originals, but make copies of all files they attach.
Step 4 – Create + Send the Dispute
Consumers can create and send a dispute online or by mail. For those comfortable with computers, online is the recommended option.
The following are links for creating a dispute online with any of the three major credit bureaus:
- Experian (click “Start a new dispute online”)
- Equifax (click “Submit a Dispute”)
- TransUnion (click “Start Dispute”)
This is when the “credit dispute letter” comes in. The sender will need to download and complete all fields of the form. Once completed, the letter will need to be mailed using certified mail to the applicable reporting agency. Their addresses are as follows:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
|Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
|TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
Step 5 – Receive Response
Once received, the credit bureau has thirty (30) days to respond to the inquiry (unless they find the inquiry senseless). At this time they will also send all applicable data relating to the dispute to the entity that originally provided the information. Once received by the original provider, it is their duty to review all information pertaining to the dispute. Should they discover the info isn’t accurate, it’s their responsibility to inform all three (3) credit bureaus so the information can be corrected in the reports.
After the completion of the investigation, the results will be sent to the consumer via mail.
Positive Result (Change to Report)
If the investigation results in a change to the credit report, the consumer will be mailed the following:
- A statement of the results;
- A free copy of their report (with the change(s) added); and
- The contact info of the creditor (“information provider”) that originally sent the disputed information.
At this point, the consumer will have completed the dispute. No further action would be required.
Negative Result (No Change to Report)
Should the bureau’s investigation not result in a change to the report, the consumer will receive a statement that includes the information provider’s name, phone number, and mailing address.
With this information, the consumer can send the debt holder a “Validation of Debt Letter”. This letter makes a formal request to the holder of the debt to provide information on the original creditor. Because it is a Federal requirement for the debt holder to provide this information, if they do not provide such details within thirty (30) days, the consumer is no longer responsible for the debt and can have it removed from their report (by sending another credit dispute letter).
How to Write
Step 1 – Sender Info
In the first section of the letter, the consumer will need to enter the following:
- The date (mm/dd/yyyy) they signed/completed the document;
- Their full name;
- Their mailing address (street, city, state, and ZIP);
- Their SSN (not a requirement for all credit bureaus); and
- Their DOB (not a requirement for all credit bureaus).
Step 2 – Credit Reporting Bureau
Enter the address of the credit reporting bureau. Addresses can be found under Step 4 above.
Step 3 – Disputed Payment
For the “Company Name” field, enter the full name of the company (creditor) that holds the debt. Then, enter the total amount ($) of debt as listed on the credit report, followed by checking the applicable box(es) relating to the reason(s) for disputing. If no boxes apply, the sender can check “Other” and type or write their reason for disputing the item.
Step 4 – Signature
At the very bottom of the document, the sender will need to sign their name. This can be completed by first printing the document and then signing with ink, or by uploading the completed form to eSign and placing a digital signature onto the letter. The sender can now attach any supplemental documentation and send the letter to the credit bureau(s).