Improving Your Credit Report

Credit Reports

How to Fix Inaccurate Information

Under the FCRA, both the credit reporting company and the information provider (company or organization that provided credit) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report.  Contact the credit reporting company and the information provider if you see inaccurate or incomplete information.

Put it in Writing

Tell the credit reporting company in writing what information you think is inaccurate. Include copies of documents that support your position. Your letter should clearly identify each item in your report that you want to dispute.  State the facts and explain why you are disputing the information. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Send your letter by certified mail so you can document what the credit reporting company received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

Credit reporting companies must investigate the items in question.  The dispute is usually addressed within 30 days unless they consider your dispute frivolous. Creditors must forward all the relevant data that you provide about the inaccuracy to the credit organization. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the credit reporting company, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the credit reporting company. If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide credit reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.

Once the investigation is complete the credit reporting company must give you the written results and a free copy of your credit reports. If an item is changed or deleted the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file.  A corrected copy of your report can be sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports.

Accurate Negative Information

When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. A credit reporting company can report negative information for 7 years and bankruptcy information for 10 years.

Adding Accounts to Your File

Your credit file may not reflect all your credit accounts. Most national department store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts are included in your file, but not all. Some local retailers, credit unions, and travel, entertainment, and gasoline card companies are among those that usually aren’t included.

If you’ve been told that you were denied credit because of an “insufficient credit file” or “no credit file” and you have accounts with creditors that don’t appear in your credit file, ask the credit reporting companies to add this information to future reports. Although they are not required to do so, many credit reporting companies will add verifiable accounts for a fee.