Mistakes on your credit report can have a dramatic effect on your credit score. It might be a case of mistaken identity, such as the auto loan of someone with your same (or similar) name appearing on your report, or it could be a matter of incorrect numbers. In any case, it’s important you read over your report to ensure it’s accurate.
It’s very important to report any mistakes to all three credit bureaus individually, and you can do it yourself. We’ve included a copy of the letter template provided by the Federal Trade Commission, addressed to each bureau. You can also start a claim online by following these links:
Table of Contents
Sample Letter for a Credit Bureau Dispute
The following letter is a copy of the FTC’s sample dispute letter, provided for your convenience.
[Your City, State, Zip Code]
[Insert the bureau’s address]
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. I have circled the items I dispute on the attached copy of the report I received.
This item [identify item(s) disputed by Name of Source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify Type of Item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.] is [inaccurate or incomplete] because [describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why]. I am requesting that the item be removed [or request another specific change] to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of [use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records and court documents] supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this [these] matter[s] and [delete or correct] the disputed item[s] as soon as possible.
Enclosures: [List what you are enclosing.]
The mailing addresses for each bureau are:
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Downloadable Dispute Letter Templates
When to Send a Dispute Letter to the Credit Bureaus
You should send a dispute letter to the credit bureaus or start an online claim immediately after you find a mistake. Bear in mind that negative information, such as late payments, will last no longer than seven years on your credit report. It’s also important to know that you likely won’t hear back from the bureaus for about a month. The most common mistakes on a credit report are:
- Missing information
- Someone else’s information on your report
- Identity theft
- Problems from a divorce
- Repeating information
How to Write a Dispute Letter to the Credit Bureaus
Remember that this is merely a guideline for how to write a letter. You should feel free to personalize or change the wording. However, there are a few rules that you should know before writing.
- Be kind. Do not be combative. Remember that, if you were the credit bureau agent reading the letter, you would be much less likely to help someone who writes an angry, threatening letter.
- Don’t cite laws or use “lawyer speak.” You are sending the letter to someone whose job is to help fix mistakes; they already know the law. Threatening a lawsuit will not help your case.
- Do not send original documents. While it’s helpful to include documentation, such as proof you’ve paid off a debt, it’s better to send a copy of the original. You will also need to send at least two proofs of identification, such as your driver’s license or W-2.
- Be very clear which part of the credit report you are disputing. If you would like, you can include a copy of your report with the disputed section circled. You don’t even need to say why you are disputing, as it’s the bureaus’ job to prove it should be on your report.
- Get directly to the heart of the problem. A credit bureau employee will likely summarize your issue for the automated e-Oscar system, which handles disputes, so making the issue clear for them will likely help move your letter along more quickly.
- Once written, have someone proofread the letter.
- Send the letter by certified mail, with a return receipt requested. This way, you will know for sure that the bureaus have received your letter.
Getting Professional Help to Dispute a Credit Report
If you would rather not go through the dispute process yourself, you can hire a professional credit repair company to do it for you. They will correspond with Transunion, Equifax, and Experian on your behalf. You can also get help from a lawyer, as well, especially if the credit bureaus fail to respond, or don’t respond in an expected way. It’s entirely possible that you could do more harm than good. Credit repair companies, however, know all of your rights as a consumer, and can navigate the murky waters of properly getting your credit repaired for you. They will handle writing letters and following up to ensure the best outcome possible.
For more information on credit scores and what affects them, visit our Credit Score Learning Center. Need more writing tips or other letter templates? Visit our credit and collections letter template resource center.
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