Credit Infocenter

How to Write a Credit Dispute Letter

November 22nd, 2019 · No Comments · Credit Repair

by holly

(Last Updated On: November 11, 2019)

Errors are common on credit reports.  In 2013, an FTC report found that one in four consumers had errors on their credit reports. How do errors occur on your credit report?  There are a number of ways;  the credit history of someone with a similar name can find its way on to your report, in other cases, the creditors make an error when reporting information to the credit bureaus.  With over 200 million active credit files managed by 3 credit bureaus, there are bound to be mistakes in data entry. 

Errors on your credit report can lower your credit score and adversely affect your ability to secure credit, obtain a mortgage, get an optimal insurance rate or get an unsecured credit card.  The law gives you the right, free of charge, to contest anything on your credit report that you contend is inaccurate. 

You have three options when disputing errors on your credit report:  online, in writing and over the phone.  It is always better to dispute an error in writing, as this gives you a paper record of your dispute.  This article will help you craft such a letter. 

First Pull Your Credit Report 

You can get a copy of your credit report FREE from annualcreditreport.com.  There are three credit bureaus that you will be pulling your report from: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.  While it is common to find advice on the internet which says to only pull one of your reports every 4 months in order to spread out the monitoring of your reports, I say it is better to get all three at once.  Information is not shared among credit bureaus and often you can have glaring errors with one bureau while the other 2 show no problems.  Also, you never know from which credit bureau a creditor will pull your credit (or if they pull all three), so it is better to get a complete picture right away.  After you pull your reports from annualcreditreport.com, print out a copy of each. 

Review Your Credit Report History

Most credit reports will divide up your credit report into sections:  Adverse History, Accounts in Good Standing, Collections and Public Records.  The areas of your credit report you want to focus on are the Adverse History, Collections and Public Records. Anything listed in these sections is an item of concern.  Take a close look and take a highlighting pen and make note of ANY information that is inaccurate.  Information that is inaccurate INCLUDES dates and amounts – not just payment history.  I’ve often seen success in deleting an entire listing when the date the account was opened was incorrect or the original amount of the loan was wrong.  When you have highlighted all of the information, it is time to start crafting your letter. 

How Many Letters Should I Write?

You should write a letter to each of the credit bureaus that have reported any inaccurate information, a maximum of three letters. 

What Information Should I Include?

Begin your letter by writing your full name, your address and your social security number at the top of the letter, along with the date.  You can address the letter “To Whom It May Concern”. 

In the first paragraph of your letter, you can simply state that you pulled your credit report and noticed some inaccurate information and you wish to dispute it and have the bureau conduct an investigation.  There is no need to cite the Fair Credit Reporting Act or make threats.  Just be clear. 

The next paragraph(s) should list your disputes. 

Should I dispute Multiple Items in One Letter?

The answer to this question is a resounding YES.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the credit bureaus must investigate each item that you dispute.  However, you must be clear:  you can’t just say my report is inaccurate, you must be explicit.  The person reading your letter has a limited amount of time to decipher it – is it obvious at a cursory glance what is being disputed?

To help with the readability, in your letter, use a whole new paragraph when describing each of your dispute.  In each dispute paragraph, list:

  • The account number of the item (the account number will often be incomplete to protect your privacy, just write down whatever account number is written on your report).
  • The information that is inaccurate. 
  • Why you believe it is inaccurate. 
  • List any proof that you may be including with your letter. 

Close your letter

Sign your name and list any attachments (documentation) that you are including with the letter. 

What Documentation to Include with Your Letter

ALWAYS include a copy of your photo ID that clearly lists your name and your address.  If your address has changed, then include a copy of a utility bill to prove you have moved.  Even if you don’t include any documentation proving your dispute, your letter should have at least one attachment – your ID.  Your credit information is highly sensitive information and the credit bureaus will absolutely not just take your word for it that you are the person disputing the information on your report, you must prove who you are and that the address you are listing is correct.  Why the address?  The credit bureau will reply to your letter via the mail, so they want to be certain they are mailing the sensitive information to the right address.   

If you have other documentation that proves you were not late, the account is not yours, the amount of the loan is incorrect, the date the account was opened is incorrect, by all means include it with your letter and include the document in your list of attachments.

If you do not have documentation that the information is inaccurate, you may still dispute the information, and I recommend you do.  The real burden of proof is on the creditor reporting the information.  Documentation just helps along the process. 

Make a Copy of Your Letter and the Documentation

For your records, you need a copy of what you are sending.  Therefore, when the bureau writes back, you can verify what you disputed and that the investigation actually took place.  If the item was not investigated, the credit bureau could be in violation of the FCRA, which could lead to an easy deletion.

Always Send the Letter Registered Mail, Receipt Requested. 

Under the FCRA, the bureaus have 30 days to investigate your claim.  If they do not complete their investigation within 30 days, they must delete the entire listing.  Sending the letter registered, receipt requested means that someone must sign for the letter and a copy of the receipt along with the date the letter was signed will be mailed back to you.  Having this receipt is real power in your hands. 

Example Letter

Date

Name
Address

Social Security Number

Credit Bureau
Bureau Address

To Whom it May Concern,

This letter is a formal complaint that you are reporting inaccurate credit information.

The following information needs to be verified and deleted from my credit report as soon as possible:

CREDITOR AGENCY –  Account #123-34567-ABC.  This account shows that I was late in July of 2019.  This information is incorrect, I was not late on this account. 

CREDITOR AGENCY – Account XXXX-123-0980.  This account is not mine. 

Please delete the above information as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

Your Signature

Attachments: 

My driver’s license, utility bill and proof that I was not late on Account #123-34567-ABC in the form of a canceled check. 

Finally

Writing a dispute letter is really pretty easy and will take you less than an hour to complete.  Not sure your letter looks correct?  Here are some other example letters.

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