Credit & Debt

How to Fix an Error on Your Credit Report

Order your reports from the credit bureaus and follow these steps to correct any mistakes.

Checking your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus is always a good idea. A misdirected bill that has gone to collections or someone with the same name but bad credit habits could torpedo your credit score. Disputing an error can be a hassle, so if the error is minor and your credit score is stellar (760 or above), you may want to skip the process.

DOWNLOAD: The Kip Tips iPad App

Start by ordering your TransUnion, ­Equifax and Experian reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. You can get a free report from each credit bureau once a year (you can also request a credit score for $8). If you find an account that doesn’t belong to you or even a misspelling of your name, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau.

The fastest way to start a dispute is online at the bureau’s Web site. You’ll need the report number, and you typically have 30 days from the time you ordered it to begin a dispute. The bureau sends your dispute to the reporting party (the lender or collections agency) to check the accuracy, and the bureau has 30 to 45 days to get back to you. If you’re lucky, the lender will own up to the error and either modify or remove it. If not, you could take your dispute directly to the lender, who also has 30 days to investigate and must show on your credit file that the item is in dispute. If it admits that the item is incorrect, it’s required to report that fact to all the bureaus to which it furnishes data.

But the lender may say the information is correct, even if you know it’s not. You can request a permanent narrative on your report noting that you dispute the item. When you apply for a mortgage or other major loan, submit a letter explaining the dispute.

This article first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. For more help with your personal finances and investments, please subscribe to the magazine. It might be the best investment you ever make.

Most Popular

Is the Stock Market a House of Cards?
investing

Is the Stock Market a House of Cards?

The stock market volatility we’ve been experiencing and the apparent disconnect with the broader economy have some investors wondering just that. But …
October 12, 2020
Stock Market Holidays in 2020
Markets

Stock Market Holidays in 2020

Is the stock market open today? Take a look at which days the NYSE, Nasdaq and bond markets take off in 2020.
October 12, 2020
10 Worst Things to Keep in Your Wallet
Scams

10 Worst Things to Keep in Your Wallet

Storing your passport book or card, a spare key, or any of these other important items in your wallet leaves you open to identity theft -- or worse.
October 9, 2020

Recommended

High-Tech Aids for Aging in Place
Caregiving

High-Tech Aids for Aging in Place

Apple Watch and other technology provides fast feedback, comfort for older users, and a powerful assist for caregivers.
October 1, 2020
Lending Money to a Friend in Need
Coronavirus and Your Money

Lending Money to a Friend in Need

If you lend money to a friend who has fallen on hard times, don't count on getting it back.
September 29, 2020
10 Things You'll Spend More on in Retirement
retirement

10 Things You'll Spend More on in Retirement

From reading materials to debt, the demands on your savings during your golden years might surprise you.
September 16, 2020
How to Catch a Rock-Bottom Rate
Buying & Leasing a Car

How to Catch a Rock-Bottom Rate

Rates on everything from home mortgages to car loans are at record lows. We’ll tell you how to qualify for the best rates.
August 27, 2020