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The national credit bureaus never charge for credit report disputes. If you see information on your credit report that you feel is incorrect, you can request a dispute completely free of charge.
All three national credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax—provide online forms you can use to submit credit report disputes, and they also accept dispute submissions by phone or mail.
When Should I Dispute My Credit Report?
Experian continuously strives to ensure that credit report information is accurate and up to date, but it's always a good idea to review your credit reports frequently to make sure all of your information is appearing correctly. If you notice information on your credit report that you feel is incorrect, you can file a dispute request. Some examples of when to file a dispute include:
- You notice that a lender has not updated account information, such as a paid-off loan that still shows a balance.
- Information about a person with the same name as yours that's been attributed to your credit report inadvertently.
- Criminals attempt to open fraudulent loans or credit accounts in your name (or succeed in doing so). These can lead to the appearance of unfamiliar credit checks, or inquiries, on your credit report; the presence of new loan or credit card accounts; or association of a new address or other personal information that you do not recognize.
- Someone has used your credit card account fraudulently and fraud charges are appearing on your report.
Checking your credit report frequently can help you detect any potential attempt at fraud or identity theft sooner, and it can also help you ensure that the information reported by your lenders is accurate and current when you go to apply for credit or services. If you disagree with what your lender is reporting, it's always a good idea to contact the lender to have the reported information corrected in addition to disputing it with the credit bureau on whose report it appears.
Know Your Rights
Under provisions of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to dispute inaccurate information that appears on your credit report. Upon receipt of your dispute, the credit reporting agency will contact the lender or data furnisher and ask them to verify the item in question. The provider of the data has 30 to 45 days to respond to the dispute, although typically you will receive the results much sooner than that. (Disputes regarding personal information may be resolved in as little as five days.)
Note that the law only requires credit bureaus to remove inaccurate information from your credit reports. Entries that are verified as accurate will not be removed until they expire from your credit report, a process that typically takes seven to 10 years.
Can Credit Repair Companies Help?
You may have seen advertisements for credit repair companies claiming the ability to clean up spotty credit histories in record time. You should know that these services sometimes employ questionable practices, may charge steep subscription fees and cannot do anything to address your credit reports that you cannot do yourself for free. Before agreeing to any services from a company claiming it can repair your credit, be sure you understand your rights under the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA).
For-profit credit repair companies should not be confused with certified nonprofit credit counselors, who can provide valuable support if you're feeling overwhelmed with debt. Credit counselors can offer advice on budgeting, help you prioritize your handling of debts, and steer you toward other resources that can help you get your credit under control, in addition to working with your lenders to implement repayment plans.
How to Dispute Your Experian Credit Report
Experian offers three ways to submit disputes, all of which are free to use:
- Online: Review your Experian credit report and file a dispute at the Experian Dispute Center. For most customers, this is the quickest and easiest way to manage credit report accuracy.
- By phone: You can begin a dispute by calling the phone number that appears on your Experian credit report. If you'd like a copy of your credit report mailed to you, call 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742).
- By mail: You can also submit a dispute by mail to Experian, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013. Printing out and completing the Dispute by Mail form can simplify the process. You also can scan the completed form and submit it electronically to Experian.com/upload.
Maintaining Accurate Credit Reports
It's important to keep an eye on your credit reports and dispute any inaccuracies that may crop up, to preserve the accuracy of your credit scores and to help detect unauthorized activity. You can check your Experian credit report for free, and then use Experian's free credit monitoring service to alert you when there's new activity on your Experian credit report. If you ever spot an inaccuracy, disputing it will always be free.