How Long Does It Take to Fix a Credit Report Error?
If you find an error on your credit report, you can contact the credit bureaus to dispute that inaccurate information. In most cases, the credit bureau has 30 days from the date of filing to investigate your claim, though an investigation can take up to 45 days in some circumstances. Once the investigation is complete, the bureau has five days to notify you of the results. It may take another few days for your credit score to reflect the change to your report.
While some investigations into credit report errors wrap up much more quickly, credit bureaus must abide by these timelines when reviewing potential inaccuracies on your credit report.
How to dispute an error on a credit report
Incorrect information on your credit report can really weigh down your score. While it may feel distressing to find an error, it’s actually quite common and there are steps you can take to resolve the issue. Disputing credit report errors can improve your score once they’re fixed.
Review your credit reports
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com once a year to view your free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. To help you keep a closer eye on your financial information during the COVID-19 pandemic, the three bureaus are offering free weekly credit reports through the end of 2023.
Gather supporting documents
Your claim is more likely to be successful if you provide documentation that substantiates your claim. Before writing your dispute letter, begin by reviewing your records and making copies of documents that can assist in your dispute. This may include bank statements, credit card statements, copies of canceled checks or a police report verifying identity theft.
Contact all three credit bureaus
With documentation in hand, you’ll next write a letter to each of the credit bureaus that are reporting the mistake. In addition to providing basic information like your name, address and phone number, you’ll need to thoroughly identify each mistake on your credit report.
In your letter, explain why the information is reported in error and describe the resolution you’re seeking (such as removal or correction of the error). When you submit your letter, be sure to include a copy of the credit report with disputed items highlighted, any relevant account numbers and copies of the supporting documentation you’ve gathered.
You can contact each bureau by phone, by mail or via its website.
|Phone||(800) 864-2978||(866) 200-6020||(800) 916-8800|
|Address||P.O. Box 740256 |
Atlanta, GA 30348
|P.O. Box 4500 |
Allen, TX 75013
|P.O. Box 2000 |
Chester, PA 19016
If it seems like the credit bureau received inaccurate information from a creditor (perhaps a reported missed payment when there wasn’t one), you should check in with the creditor as well.
Wait for the credit bureaus to investigate
Credit bureaus must abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which outlines consumer rights around credit information and sets rules and regulations for the credit reporting agency.
The FCRA specifies that credit report errors must be investigated and sets a timeline for doing so. Consumer-reporting agencies must correct or delete information that is inaccurate, incomplete or unverifiable within 30 days. If you submit additional documentation while your dispute is being reviewed, the bureau can extend this deadline by up to 15 days. If you submit a dispute after receiving a free copy of your credit report, the bureaus have up to 45 days to investigate.
Depending on the nature of the dispute, some investigations may conclude much more quickly; minor typos in your name or address, for example, may get fixed quickly.
Once the review of your dispute has concluded, the credit agency has five days to notify you of the results. If the investigation found that your claim had merit and the agency agrees to correct the error, it may take a few days for your credit report to be amended and your score to be recalculated.
Common types of credit report errors
Many people have an error on one of their credit reports, including inaccurate personal information, incorrect account reporting and data management errors. Even the smallest errors should be corrected.
Incorrect biographical information
Sometimes a credit bureau will have the wrong name, address, phone number, Social Security number or birth date on your credit report. This personal information helps lenders corroborate your identity.
Incorrect account statuses
Potential account reporting issues include closed accounts that are reported as open, incorrect account ownership, accounts that are reported as late or delinquent and inaccurate late payment histories.
Data management errors
Credit bureaus sometimes have internal data management issues that lead to credit report errors. This could cause duplicate or missing accounts or inaccurate information that was previously resolved through a dispute.
Credit limit or debt balance errors
Your credit report may list incorrect balances on your credit lines or inaccurate information on your credit limit. This information can affect your credit score and should be corrected to avoid a dip in your score.
What to do if you disagree with the outcome
Unfortunately, some investigations don’t end in the consumer’s favor. If you disagree with the credit reporting company’s findings, you have options for seeking resolution.
Contact the reporting lender
You can contact the lender to correct discrepancies in its reporting. If the lender incorrectly reports a missed payment to a credit bureau, for example, the bureau won’t be able to correct that error unless the lender reports a correction to its original data.
Refile your dispute
You could always refile the dispute, especially if you’ve only sent a dispute to one of the three major credit bureaus. But if you only include the same information as your original dispute, odds are high that it will be rejected again. New documents that better support your claim may help you receive a different outcome.
Add a statement of dispute
If you’ve exhausted your options and an error still shows up on your credit report, you can add a statement of dispute. While it won’t change the information, it will provide creditors and lenders an explanation for why you disagree with part of the report.