How to Correct Errors on Your Credit Reports and Why They Occur

To err may be human, but when it comes to errors on your credit report, it can have a significant impact on your financial well-being. Incorrect information on credit reports is the number one complaint received by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). In fact, a study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that 26% of participants identified at least one error on their credit report that could make them appear riskier to lenders. These errors can have serious consequences, affecting your ability to get loans, secure new lines of credit, or obtain better lending terms and interest rates. It’s crucial to stay on top of your credit reports and address any mistakes promptly.

Common Mistakes that Cause Credit Report Errors

Before we delve into how to fix credit report errors, it’s important to understand the common mistakes that can lead to these errors. One common mistake is inconsistencies in personal information. If you apply for credit under different names or variations of your name, it can result in inaccurate information on your credit report. Ensure that you use the same name and middle initial consistently to avoid confusion. Additionally, discrepancies in your Social Security number and address can also lead to errors.

Another factor that can contribute to credit report errors is the absence of certain credit accounts. If you were denied credit because of an “insufficient credit file” or “no credit file,” it may be because not all creditors report consumer credit information to credit bureaus. While most national department store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts are typically included in your credit file, some creditors may not voluntarily supply information to credit bureaus. If you discover missing accounts, consider asking your creditors to report your credit information or explore other creditors who regularly report to credit bureaus.

Here are some other common errors to look out for:

  • Clerical errors made by someone when reading or entering your name or address information from a handwritten application.
  • Payments applied to the wrong account, leading to inaccurate reporting of your credit history.
  • Duplicate reporting of accounts, making it appear that you have more open lines of credit or higher debt than you actually do.
  • Failure to reflect the closure of a credit account, making it seem like the creditor closed the account instead of you.
  • Inclusion of your former spouse’s debts on your credit report after a divorce.
  • Presence of old bad debts that should have been removed from your report after seven years.
  • Mysterious accounts and bad debts resulting from identity theft.

Fixing Credit Report Errors

If you discover errors on your credit report, it’s crucial to take action to correct them promptly. To ensure a quick resolution, you should contact both the credit bureau and the organization that provided the inaccurate information. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, both parties are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your credit report.

Most credit bureaus now accept online submissions for disputes. However, Experian only accepts online submissions, while others still allow traditional mail. Visit the respective credit bureau websites to initiate a dispute.

When contacting the credit bureau, clearly identify the disputed items and provide supporting documentation. State the facts and explain why you dispute the information, requesting deletion or correction. It’s recommended to enclose a copy of your credit report with the disputed items highlighted. Send your correspondence via certified mail with a return receipt to ensure proof of receipt by the credit bureau. It’s important to keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures for your records.

Next, write to the organization or creditor that provided the inaccurate information, explaining your dispute and including supporting documents. Many organizations have a specific address for disputes. Request that they copy you on any correspondence they send to the credit bureau regarding your dispute.

The credit bureau typically has 30-45 days to respond to your dispute. In some cases, your score may improve after the errors are corrected. However, it’s essential to note that not all corrections will lead to an immediate increase in your credit score. Closing credit card accounts, for example, will not remove them from your credit report, nor will it erase your payment history associated with those accounts.


Q: How long does it take for the credit bureau to respond to a dispute?

A: The credit bureau typically has 30-45 days to respond to a dispute.

Q: What if I disagree with the credit bureau’s investigation?

A: If you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the credit bureau’s investigation, you can request that your statement of dispute be included in your file and future reports. There may be a fee for this service, but it can be worthwhile if the inaccurate information is causing you harm.

Q: Should I hire a lawyer if the credit bureau’s investigation doesn’t produce the desired results?

A: If the investigation fails to resolve the issue, and the inaccuracies in your credit report are causing significant harm, you may consider hiring a lawyer as a last resort to help resolve the dispute.


Keeping an eye on your credit reports and promptly addressing errors is essential for maintaining good creditworthiness. By understanding common mistakes that cause credit report errors and taking the necessary steps to fix them, you can protect your financial reputation and ensure accurate information is reflected in your credit reports. Regularly reviewing your credit reports and addressing errors will help you stay in control of your financial future.

Remember, your credit reports are a crucial tool for lenders, and ensuring their accuracy is vital for your financial well-being. Take charge of your credit reports and be proactive in fixing any errors to secure a stronger financial foundation.

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