How to write a credit dispute letter

Start the year by correcting your credit report

You have gone to and downloaded a copy of your credit report. After a careful review, you discover inaccurate information or a debt that you do not recognize. You are not alone. According to a 2013 report by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one in four consumers spotted errors on their credit reports that might affect their credit scores. The good news is that one in five also had an error that was corrected by a credit reporting agency after it was disputed.

The FTC points out that under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), both the credit reporting company and the information provider are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. Therefore, if you discover an error in one of your reports from the national reporting companies - Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax, you should contact both the reporting company and the information provider (individual, creditor or other organization). Address the letter to the complaint department or other address specifically noted on the report or statement and use the following guidelines for your written letter:

  1. Tell the reporting company what information you think is inaccurate. In most cases the credit reporting company must investigate the matter within 30 days and give you a written response of their findings. If you were unaware of the information provider, this information will be included in the response.
  2. If you already know the creditor or information provider, tell them that you dispute the item. Any further reporting by the information provider must include the information that the item is in dispute until resolved, and if the information is found to be incorrect, they cannot report it again.

If you would like to view a sample dispute letter or learn more information follow the link to the FTC website. In addition, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau encourages you to provide sufficient identifying information in your dispute letter in addition to your name and address such as your date of birth and Social Security number. However, take appropriate security measures like encrypting, if using email.

Making improvements in your financial situation can be time consuming and difficult. If you have questions, or would like to ask an expert, Michigan State University Extension has access to many resources. Visit the Mi Money Health webpage for more information and answers to your questions.

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