Credit report disputes are never charged by the national credit bureaus. If you find information on your credit report that you believe is incorrect, you can file a free dispute.

All three national credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—provide online forms for submitting credit report disputes, and they also accept phone or mail submissions.

When Should I Dispute My Credit Report?

Experian works hard to keep credit report information accurate and up to date, but it's always a good idea to review your credit reports on a regular basis to ensure that all of your information is correct. You can file a dispute request if you find information on your credit report that you believe is incorrect. Here are some examples of when you should file a dispute:

A) You notice that a lender has not updated account information, such as a paid-off loan with an outstanding balance.

B) Information about a person with the same name as you that has been inadvertently attributed to your credit report.

C)Criminals try to open bogus loans or credit accounts in your name (or succeed in doing so). These can result in the appearance of unfamiliar credit checks, or inquiries, on your credit report; the presence of new loan or credit card accounts; or the association of a new address or other personal information with which you are unfamiliar.

D)Someone has used your credit card account fraudulently, and fraud charges have been recorded on your credit report.

Checking your credit report on a regular basis can help you detect potential fraud or identity theft attempts earlier, and it can also help you ensure that the information reported by your lenders is accurate and up to date when you apply for credit or services. If you disagree with what your lender is reporting, you should always contact the lender to have the reported information corrected, in addition to disputing it with the credit bureau whose report it appears on.

Know Your Rights

You have the right to dispute inaccurate information on your credit report under the provisions of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. When the credit reporting agency receives your dispute, it will contact the lender or data provider and ask them to verify the item in question. The data provider has 30 to 45 days to respond to the dispute, though you will usually receive the results much sooner. (Disputes over personal information can be settled in as little as five days.)

It is important to note that the law only requires credit bureaus to remove incorrect information from your credit reports. Entries that have been verified as accurate will not be removed from your credit report until they expire, which typically takes seven to ten years.

Can Credit Repair Companies Help?

You may have seen advertisements for credit repair companies that claim to be able to clean up bad credit in record time. You should be aware that these services may use dubious practices, charge exorbitant subscription fees, and cannot do anything to improve your credit reports that you cannot do yourself for free. Before you agree to any services from a company that claims to be able to repair your credit, make sure you understand your rights under the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA).

For-profit credit repair companies should not be confused with certified nonprofit credit counselors, who can offer invaluable assistance if you're drowning in debt. Credit counselors can help you with budgeting, debt management, and directing you to other resources that can help you get your credit under control, in addition to working with your lenders to implement repayment plans.


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