Disputing Errors on Credit Reports
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both the credit reporting agency and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a credit reporting agency) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under this federal law, contact the credit reporting agency and the information provider.
Disputing Credit Report Errors Toolbox for Consumers
This toolbox provides a series of questions and answers to help you understand what information is included in your credit file, and what rights you have under federal law concerning errors on their reports.
What information is included in my credit file?
Your credit file may not reflect all your credit accounts. Although most national department store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will be included in your file, not all creditors supply information to credit reporting agencies: some local retailers, credit unions, travel, entertainment, and gasoline card companies are among the creditors that might not.
When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. A credit reporting agency can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. Information about an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. There is no time limit on reporting: information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you've applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance. There is a standard method for calculating the seven-year reporting period. Generally, the period runs from the date that the event took place.
How can I correct errors found in my credit report?
If you find errors in your credit report, you may dispute the information and request that the information be deleted or corrected.
Step One: Contact the Credit Reporting Agency
Tell the credit reporting agency, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts, explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Use the sample letter (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).) provided by the Federal Trade Commission, or one available from the credit reporting agency. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so you can document what the credit reporting agency received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.
Credit reporting agencies must investigate the items in question — usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous or irrelevant. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the credit reporting agency, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the credit reporting agency. If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide credit reporting agencies so they can correct the information in your file.
When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting agency must give you the results in writing and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This free report does not count as your annual free report (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).) . If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting agency cannot put the disputed information back in your file, unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The credit reporting agency also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.
If you ask, the credit reporting agency must send notices of any corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. You can have a corrected copy of your report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
Step Two: Contact Your Creditor
Tell the creditor or other information provider, in writing, that you dispute an item. Be sure to include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a credit reporting agency, it must include a notice of your dispute. And if you are correct — that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate — the information provider may not report it again.
What if an investigation does not resolve my dispute?
If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a brief statement of the dispute be included in your file and included or summarized in future reports. You also can ask the credit reporting agency to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past, but you may have to pay a fee for this service. Also, if you are dissatisfied with the resolution, you have the option of submitting a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (opens new window) (You will be leaving NCUA.gov and accessing a non-NCUA website. We encourage you to read the NCUA's exit link policies. (opens new page).) .