How to Clean Up Errors on Your Credit Record

Even one report of a late credit card payment can have a negative impact on your credit score.

Even one report of a late credit card payment can have a negative impact on your credit score.

The three-digit number that makes up your credit score can have a profound impact on your life, from getting a credit card with special perks, a mortgage with a low interest rate or even a job. If you find negative information on your credit report, only the passage of time can remove it if it's accurate. However, a Federal Trade Commission study found that 5 percent of people have incorrect information that negatively impacts their credit score. If you find errors, you're allowed to dispute the information, and the credit bureaus and creditors must investigate within 30 days.

Make copies of any evidence that supports your claim that certain information is incorrect on your credit report. The Federal Trade Commission warns against using originals. For example, if your credit report shows a late payment but you have a statement that shows the payment was made on time, make a copy of that statement to use in your dispute.

Write a letter challenging the incorrect information. In the letter, clearly specify what information you're challenging, explain why it's wrong and request that it be corrected or removed. You can ensure the creditor and credit bureaus don't get confused about which information you're challenging by including a copy of your credit report and circling the errors.

Mail a letter to the credit bureau that's reporting the error and challenge the information. Use certified mail to create a paper trail in case you later need to prove you mailed the dispute letter.

Mail a letter, also using certified mail, to the creditor reporting the incorrect information. This letter should contain the same information and evidence as your letter to the credit bureaus.


  • The three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, also allow you to dispute information on your credit report online. Though it may seem easier and faster, mailing your dispute creates a paper trail that can be useful if the dispute is ignored or not resolved in your favor.

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About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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