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The Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") is a federal law that provides standards for "Consumer Reports," more commonly referred to as "Credit Reports."   Because your credit score and the contents of your report can heavily impact your housing situation, your eligibility for loans, your ability to participate in some programs or your employment, all consumers should closely monitor their reports and know what they say.  You can request a free credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) once every 12 months. If you would like a copy sooner than 12 months, you can pay for an extra copy, or get a free copy if you were denied for credit, employment or other programs.

What Should I Look For When Reviewing my Report?

In addition to reviewing your personal information, like social security number, name and address, you should review the accounts section to determine that the payment histories are correct and the balances due are accurate.  You should also review the "Inquiries" section.  This will tell you who looked at your credit report.  If there are names in that section that you do not recognize; someone may have used your credit report without your permission.

What Do I Do If There are Errors on My Credit Report?

If you find inaccurate items on your credit report, you should send a written dispute directly to the credit reporting agency "CRA" (TransUnion, Equifax or Experian, for example).  Many credit reporting agencies have websites for submitting online disputes. Keep a copy of the letter or online dispute for your records, as well as a copy of any tracking or reference numbers that you are given.  If you chose to send a letter, you should send it certified mail, with a return receipt requested so that you can prove that the CRA received it.

You should include, at a minimum, your full name, your address, your social security number and a description of what you are disputing, including an account number, if applicable.  Additional documents may be required, depending on the dispute.  This chart from Equifax describes some documentation that may be required to process your request.  

The CRA will have 30 days from the date of your dispute to investigate the claim and issue a response.

What if the Credit Reporting Agency Refuses to Correct My Report?

If the CRA denies your request to remove or correct the error, you have the right to bring a lawsuit.  As part of your claim, you may need to show that you were harmed by the inaccurate time on your credit report, so keep copies of any application denials,  account closures or other evidence of damages that you received as a result of the error.

What Happens If I File a Lawsuit?​

Some consumers feel reluctant to sue a CRA.  In our experience, bringing a lawsuit is one of the only ways to get proper attention on an error.  CRAs have systems designed to process disputes quickly, often without an appropriate investigation of the facts.  If you sue a CRA under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can claim any "actual damages" you suffered (out of pocket expenses, monetary losses from missed opportunities, etc.) plus "statutory damages" of up to $1,000, "punitive damages" for egregious violations, plus attorney's fees and costs.

Because the FCRA allows the consumer to claim attorney's fees and costs, we are usually able to help people for no out of pocket cost.

Schedule a free call with an attorney to see how we can help.

How Do I Dispute Something On My Credit Report?

If you have an error on your Equifax Report, you can submit a dispute online here, or write to:

Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA  30374-0256

If you have an error on your TransUnion Report, you can submit a dispute online here, or write to:

TransUnion Consumer Solutions 

P.O. Box 2000 

Chester, PA 19016-2000

If you have an error on your Experian Report, you can submit a dispute online here, or write to:

Experian,

P.O. Box 4500

Allen, TX 75013

Other Resources

CFPB's Credit Reports and Scores Tool

FTC's Understanding Your Credit