Many people do not realize it is common to have inaccuracies on your credit report. This can be as simple as an incorrect spelling of your name or an incorrect address. But, you may find more serious problems to address.

First, you will need to take specific steps to correct the errors. Now, cleaning your credit report is quick and easy because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Credit bureaus should only be reporting accurate and current information. Here are three steps to dispute inaccuracies:

Step 1: Obtain Your Credit Reports 

First, check reports from all major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Some information may vary because not all creditors report to every bureau. Also, you may receive a free report from each company once per year. Contact the Annual Credit Report Request Agency for the free report. Or, you can get them directly from the bureaus for a fee.

Step 2: Know What Can Be Removed

Yet, not all items can be removed. Credit bureaus are required to report all credit and debt information. S0, you need to know what can be removed. Here is a list of removable information:

  • Wrong Information. If the report lists incorrect information, you can have it permanently removed from your record.
  • Duplicate information. An account may show up multiple times. However, you may only want it listed once. If this occurs, it may prevent lenders from believing you have more debt. Or, they may think you have more credit problems than you actually do.
  • Old, negative information. Often, negative information will not haunt you forever. Your credit report may show lawsuits, judgements, liens, foreclosures, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, late payments, and charged-off accounts for seven years.

Step 3: Dispute Inaccuracies 

If you notice errors that should have aged off your report it is time to act:

  • File the dispute the bureau. First, you can make the dispute on the company website, over the phone, or by mail. You’ll have to provide personal identification, what information is incorrect, and what the correct information is. If you have any supporting documents, include those as well.
  • Wait 30 days. After your file is disputed, the bureau has 30 days to investigate. A dispute notation will show up on your report. During this time, the creditor will have time to verify the information. However, if they cannot prove it’s accurate, the bureau will stop reporting it. Once the investigation is completed, you will receive a written report. The report will include bureau’s findings. Also, it will include an updated copy of your credit report if any changes were made.

Generally, removing inaccuracies is simple. If the investigation results in no changes, write a letter to the creditor explaining why the information is incorrect and that you want them to report the correct information. Include copies of supporting documents, if any. The creditor may not report unproven information.

Finally, write a letter of explanation to add to your report, if the situation does not get resolved. Briefly, explain your side of the credit problem. Write clearly, include supports facts, and send it to the bureaus to be attached to your report. This statement could make a positive impact on whoever is reading the report.