Credit Reporting Error FAQ

Credit Reporting Error FAQs

How many credit bureaus have information about me?

More than you think.  Most people are familiar with the big three credit bureaus, but there are many more.  Most of these other credit bureaus maintain databases of specialized information that does not appear on a traditional credit report.  For instance, several credit bureaus specialize in collecting data concerning payday and internet loans.  Another group of credit bureaus maintains a information only about bank accounts.  Others collect data about employment and insurance.  Some of these bureaus are small and local, while others maintain data on a nationwide basis.  For a list of the most common credit reporting agencies, you can check the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's annual list.

How do I get a copy of my credit report?

All credit reporting agencies are required to provide a free report to consumers on an annual basis.  Additionally, if you have been the victim of an identity theft, the credit bureaus are required to provide a copy of your report for free, even if you have recently received your free annual report.  You can order your copy by writing and mailing your request, ordering online, or requesting by phone.  We recommend that you only request by mail.  You can find copies of letters to order your reports from a number of difference credit bureaus on our resource page.

Why shouldn't I order my report online?

Even though ordering your report online is more convenient than waiting for the mail, online ordering presents substantial risks that do not arise with a mailed request.  For a number of years, the credit bureaus have required consumers who order online to agree to their terms of service -- that click through button that says "I agree."  These same credit bureaus have buried mandatory arbitration clauses and other waivers of consumers' rights in these multipage terms of use dialogue boxes.  Even if were possible to read these terms of use, most of the are written in legalese that is not understandable by most consumers.  Just say no to these terms and order your credit reports by mail.  All your rights will remain intact. 

How do I correct an error on my credit report?

If you notice an error in your credit report you should immediately write a dispute letter to your credit bureau. Your credit dispute should be direct and have all the information necessary for a credit reporting agency to understand that they have put false information on your report.  For instructions, you can read our article on how to write a credit dispute, click here.  You can also download our sample dispute letter on our resource page.

What kinds of errors can I ask to correct on my credit report?

You can dispute and request correction of any information that appears in your credit file and can be sold by the credit bureau.  Most commonly, these items include,

  • Incorrect names.
  • False addresses.
  • Information about accounts, including the balance, payment history, and whether it is yours at all.
  • False public records.
  • Inquiries into your credit file that were not authorized by law.

What are the most common errors on credit reports?

  • Reported as deceased.
  • Reinsertion of information that was previously removed.
  • Identity theft accounts that the consumer never opened.
  • Someone else's accounts on the consumer's report.
  • Duplicate entries of the same account.
  • Mortgage Short Sales
  • Debts that were discharged in bankruptcy showing as still owning or open.
  • Someone else's conviction or public record on the consumer's report.
  • Wrong names and addresses.
  • Released tax liens showing as still owed.
  • Derogatory accounts that are more than 7 years old.
  • Accounts that have been transferred to collectors showing a false date of first delinquency.

 What if the the credit bureau rejects my dispute and verifies the false information?

You have two choices now.  First, if your dispute was rejected based on a reason that you can correct -- such as you need to provide identification -- then you can write another dispute letter and correct the problem.  In some cases, you may need to write several letters back and forth with the credit bureaus before you are able to get an item removed.  Second, if you have written several dispute letters and you still can't get the credit bureaus to remove the false information, you are probably at the end of the road for self help, and it is time to get a credit reporting attorney involved to bring a lawsuit.  If you need help figuring out whether it is time to involve and attorney, you can call us for a consultation at (888) 400-CREDIT or hit send us a message through this site.


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