You have the legal right to rectify inaccuracies in the information that the three major bureaus keep regarding your spending habits, and the way to get an error corrected is to send credit report dispute letters to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This process requires a lot of patience, some recordkeeping and a bit of repetition.
The First Step
Before you send dispute letters to any of the three major credit bureaus, you might want to first contact one of them online or via its toll-free phone number to request a 90-day hold on your account. That will keep any additional erroneous information from getting into your credit record and also let the bureaus know that they'll be hearing from you soon about discrepancies. You only need to notify one of the three because they share hold requests with one another.
Credit Report Dispute Letters
The big three bureaus get a lot of mail disputing information in credit reports, and it all adds up to a lot of information for them to process. Your letter could easily get lost in the piles of incoming mail. Make copies of everything you send to the bureaus and be prepared to resend these items. The best credit report dispute letters are simple, concise and easy to read. Point out exactly what information is incorrect without overexplaining the errors.
What Not to Do
Here are a few things not to do:
- Don't be vague. Quote exactly what information is wrong and say how it should read.
- Don't cite any laws, court rulings or procedures because the credit bureau employees already know the relevant legal information.
- Don't threaten a lawsuit. You want someone at the credit bureau to help you, and threatening someone isn't the most effective way to elicit a positive response.
- Don't forget to include in your mailing photocopies of two forms of identification proving who you are.
- Don't make your letter look like it came from a credit repair company.
- Don't forget to send a separate letter to each of the three credit bureaus, and make sure to address them correctly.
Check out this sample credit dispute letter:Dear Experian Representative,
My name is Jane Doe, and like the accompanying copies of my identification show, my Social Security number is 123-45-6789. I recently obtained a copy of my Experian credit report and discovered several errors. Please correct the inaccuracies described below.
The report includes a mailing address that I never lived at, and this should be deleted: 123 California Street, Sacramento, California, 94203.
Your report states that I have a $5,000 delinquent balance on a Macy's credit card I never personally obtained. Please delete this erroneous information.
Thanks very much for helping me remove erroneous information from my report in a timely manner.
About the Letter
In the example above, the letter writer appears to be a victim of identity theft, but she refrained from stating that. Unless you can supply more concrete evidence and a police report indicating that theft has occurred, it doesn't behoove you to make accusations when writing to a credit bureau asking for errors to be removed.Make the request as simple as possible for an employee at the bureau to handle, and you're more likely to have your wish granted promptly. That may eliminate the need to resend letters to the credit bureaus several times. Whether you only have to send one batch of letters or do repeat mailings, the process of clearing up one's credit reports takes some time. Be patient and eventually you should get results.