Sign up for your free account    Sign Up Now
From the Experts at

How Do I Dispute An Error On My Credit Report?

by Gerri Detweiler

Learn how to dispute an error on your credit report.

When you get your credit report, you may find information on it that is not correct. When that happens, you’ll need to understand how to dispute an error on your credit report. Here, we will explain how mistakes wind up on credit reports and how to fix them.

Three major credit reporting agencies; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, maintain credit information about consumers. These companies are competitors and they each collect and maintain their own individual reports about consumers. In other words, they don’t share information with each other. The data they collect is compiled into credit reports, also referred to as “credit files” or “credit histories.”

Your credit report is a record of how you’ve managed credit accounts, including credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, and personal loans. Some types of accounts – such as medical debt or utility accounts – are not usually reported unless those bills go to collections.

How To Spot Mistakes: The only way to find mistakes on your credit reports it to review them yourself. You can get free copies of your credit reports once each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. In addition, you will want to monitor your credit scores each month (which you can do for free at If your score changes dramatically, it may be a sign that there is a mistake on your report.

How Do Mistakes Happen?

The details on your free credit report has been supplied by creditors, and gathered from public record sources, such as the court system in the case of bankruptcies or judgments. If a creditor or other source that gathers this information makes a mistake (typing in an address wrong or Social Security number, for example), that error may wind up on your credit reports.

Also keep in mind that credit reports are only compiled when they are requested. When you or a creditor requests your credit report or credit score. To do that, the credit reporting agencies will try to “match” account information they have in their databases to the consumer for which the report has been ordered. Usually that process works fine, but sometimes information about relatives or other consumers with similar names can get mixed up with yours.

Finally, if you have been inconsistent in the information you’ve used when filling out applications (using different variations of your name or address, for example), that can show up as an error on your reports.

How Do You Correct Mistakes on Your Credit Report?

The first step in disputing a credit report mistake is to understand whether an item is wrong or not. That sounds logical but it can be trickier than you realize. For example, your credit report may list an inquiry from a company you don’t recognize, but if that company accessed your credit report, the credit reporting agency is legally obligated to report that inquiry. Or your report may show a collection account that you paid off. While you may think it should be removed because you paid it, under federal law it can be reported for up to seven years and six months from the date you fell behind with the original creditor, regardless of whether it has been paid. (Of course, a paid collection account should still be listed as paid.)

Once you have established that an item is wrong, you can dispute it. You can contact the lender (or collection agency) who is reporting the wrong information, the credit reporting agency that lists the mistake, or both. Asking the creditor to fix it may be the simplest approach, because if they do agree they made a mistake, they will be required to transmit the correction to all the agencies to which they report. That saves you the extra step of having to dispute it with other agencies that may be reporting the same incorrect information.

However, it’s also important to note that to protect your legal rights under federal law, you must send a written copy of your dispute to the credit reporting agencies, not just the creditor. Therefore, if you find a serious mistake or if you are having trouble getting an item corrected, make sure you also report the error directly to the credit bureau(s).

Dispute an Error Online or By Mail

If you ordered your reports online you will have the option of disputing it online or by mail.

Online disputes are fast and convenient; however, you may not be able to include documentation to back up your side of the story. So if you have proof that an item is wrong, you may want to send a written dispute and include the records you would like to them to review. If you do file a credit report dispute by mail, be sure to send it via certified mail and keep a copy for your records.

Credit reporting agencies and creditors who receive a credit dispute are required by law to investigate a dispute and report the results of their investigation back to the consumer within 30 days, in most situations.

Credit Bureau Dispute Information

If you have ordered your credit report through or another credit report service you will be provided with instructions for how to dispute a mistake.

Equifax dispute: Equifax has a form for initiating a credit report dispute on their website at

Experian dispute: You will find instructions for filing a dispute or checking on an existing one at

TransUnion dispute: Visit the TransUnion website for instructions for filing a consumer dispute if you think the information on your TransUnion credit report is wrong.

  • hillbilly

    last year trying to get a loan for my son for business that was bring in over $100,000 a year that his friend was turning it over to him,plus the equipment though my loan company,and it didn’t go through,then later on i got my own credit report.TransUnion showed on my report that our Mobile, and land had been repossessed about six months earlier.I tried to get my finance co. to help me fix this big mistake.Because we have never been late or never missed a payment with Spring Leaf Finance Co, and they didn’t try at all.This stupid mistake cost my son and i a big let down,besides a nervous break down

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Have you talked with a consumer law attorney? You may have a case for credit damage, especially if you can show how much this error cost you.

  • ric

    I did the online dispute and everything was fine. All its were deleted

  • Credit Experts

    Debbs —
    Because it’s in your name and with your Social Security number (with your knowledge and consent), it’s actually your debt, even though you intended it as strictly a favor. It will go off your report 7 years and 180 days after the debt was reported late. It’s hard to say how much impact it would have on your score. But not paying leaves open the possibility that you could be sued and the company could get a judgment against you. That would definitely hurt your credit.

    Here’s a resource that might be useful:
    The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

    • debbs

      I was thinking that I’d better pay. I hadn’t thought of them trying to sue me! Even though more than half the time has passed, that’s another 3+ years of dealing with this. I guess paying her bill is the cost of learning a lesson. Thanks for your help!

  • Worried

    I had stopped using a credit card. And consequently forgot to pay off an amount of $25/- which I paid off in full after 3 months. Other than that I’ve had a perfect history of always paying in full and on time Due to this sole incident my credit rating that was in the 800+. range went down to the mid740’s. Is there something I can do about it?

    • Credit Experts

      Unfortunately, the higher your credit score, the larger an effect a misstep like yours can have. However, in this case, time will be your best ally. Even though your score has dropped and you feel frustrated, your score is still very good (See What Is a Good Credit Score?). Scores above 800 are considered “super prime,” but they don’t generally get you better rates than scores that are merely “excellent.” And with on-time payments from here on out, you can expect your scores to rise.

    • eb

      If it was a valid late payment (alas, forgetting a bill counts, just as it’s frustrating when someone forgets to pay you), then it’s a valid mark on your credit. That said, you can try a generic dispute through the credit agency (some collectors will simply delete it rather than take the time to verify, even if it’s valid) or you can contact the company and politely ask if they’ll assist you in removing the blemish. In the future, ask for deletion as a condition of payment of the debt (again not guaranteed, but worth a try).

  • Gerri Detweiler

    You have the right to dispute mistakes, and if they don’t fix them I’d suggest you complain to the CFPB.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    We’ve written about that problem in this article:
    Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

  • Gerri Detweiler

    You need to get something that proves your current address – do you have a driver’s license, a health insurance card, a call phone bill? With that you need to order your credit reports. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. Then you need to dispute the mistaken information in writing, not online or by phone. If they don’t correct it you can contact a consumer law attorney or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    Are you also saying you have no credit accounts? If so then removing these items will make you a “credit ghost.” I’d suggest you start building credit as soon as possible: a secured credit card would be a good start.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    If you are in the midst of trying to get a mortgage then your loan officer should be helping you to straighten this out. The credit reporting agency his or her firm uses to pull reports should have expedited access that allows problems to be fixed more rapidly than through the regular channels.

    Are they not helping you?

  • jane

    I’m really confused about where to find help about a false statement on my credit report. We tried to qualify for a mortgage modification but did not qualify, in the process it was reported we were late with our mortgage payment. We were never late with payments but was told by Chase to not pay for 90 days so we WOULD qualify. Well, they didn’t give us the modification but they did report we were Late with payments. Who can help us get this off our credit reports?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Jane – You have two options. One is to consult with a consumer law attorney and the other would be to reach out to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for help.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Amanda – What does it show on your report? Late payments? Late payments over 7 years old should not be reported. Have you tried taking the steps described in this article and disputed them with the credit reporting agencies? If so what happened?

    • Mo Money Mo Problems

      I believe they are student loans, which may be reported indefinitely.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        What is the status of those loans now? Are you in default or are you current and repaying them?

        • Mo Money Mo Problems

          I have taken care of mine, I was referring to Amanda. Gerri, thank you for being so active. It’s impressive.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Thanks for the kind words!

  • Dave

    I went to court over a credit card debt of $5,176.00 and won due to errors made by the credit card companies attorney. The credit card company dropped the case and I owe them nothing. However, they waited one year then put it on my credit report as a charge off amount of $5,176.00. How do I remove this from my credit report?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Dave – Were you represented by an attorney? If so then I’d recommend you talk with him or her. If you went to court pro se, then my suggestion is you dispute the item in writing with each of the credit reporting agencies that is reporting it and include a copy of the papers from the court. If that doesn’t solve it you will either need to try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or getting an attorney involved.

  • amanda

    so do i contact sallie mae and try to dispute it?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      First file a written dispute with each of the major credit reporting agencies that are reporting the incorrect information. Send your letter certified mail or with proof of delivery and keep a copy for your records. I recommend this step to protect your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Was it Chapter 7 or Chapter 13? Chapter 7 bankruptcies can be reported for ten years from the date you filed while Chapter 13 are reported for seven years from the date you filed.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Inquiries can be difficult to remove because they basically indicate that someone reviewed your credit file, whether you wanted them to or not. Inquiries generally make up such a small part of the credit score that even if you get them removed the score doesn’t change much. And they only count for 1-2 years. What is your concern about them?

  • Ashley

    I ordered my credit report through MyScore and through TransunionPlus. The score that MyScore gave me is almost 60 points below the score that TransUnion gave me. Meaning two different scores from the same credit bureau. They were both generated w/in a week of each other, and there have been no changes except paying DOWN a credit card. I imagine that the TransUnionPlus account is giving me my correct TransUnion score. How can I address the error?

    • Credit Experts

      Ashley —

      You can dispute errors on your credit reports (the data there is used to calculate credit scores). But scores vary, and you have many scores. The key is to see how the same score changes over time. For more, see Why Do I Have So Many Credit Scores?

  • mp

    I was looking for a mortgage, and some loan companies said that if I ran a hard credit check with them to give me estimates, it would only come up once if done within a few days. They lied because now I’m getting multiple records and a damage to my credit history. What to do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      MP – Dispute the inquiries with the credit reporting agencies. Simply let them know you think the inquiries are fraudulent. They may be removed as a result.

  • Melissa Colvin Daniels

    I added up my credit limit on my retail and credit cards and the total I come up with is like $20,000 more than what credit report shows, which makes my usage % lower. How do you fix that?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Melissa – Have you identified which of your cards are not reporting the correct credit limits? If so then that would be something you could dispute quite easily. Have you contacted the card issuers who are reporting the wrong amounts?

      • Melissa Colvin Daniels

        No, actually the credit card companies are reporting the correct credit limit, the credit Bureau isn’t calculating the full credit limits available to me, which is causing my credit usage % to be higher.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I am not sure what you mean. Did you purchase a score from the bureaus that lists the utilization percentage? Remember each scoring model that is used will do it differently….

  • Junia Williams

    My student loan began as a consolidated 15,000 approx. It is now under 20,000. This is because most of the last 7 years has been spent in hardship status of one sort or another. I am not quite ready to begin paying Sallie Mae off and they understand that. My credit report however is much less understanding and this loan is really hurting me. What can I do to turn this issue around and get my credit back on track asap. P.S. I have started a small business from the ground up..I need to be in a position to of ability to get assistance.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Is your loan in default? If so then your main goal should be to get it out of default. If you don’t, the negative information from that will continue to drag your scores down.

  • beenripped off

    credit reporting DO NOT change wrong information. False information has been on my credit report for the past year and I tried and tried to get it corrected. Credit reporting companies just list the bad stuff not the good things you do like paying off credit cards that DOES NOT SHOW UP

  • Ellen

    I filed for Chapter 13 and then decided to sell my house instead and didn’t go through with the bankruptcy. It still shows up on my credit report. Can I have it removed?

    • Credit Experts

      We wish we had better news. If you filed it, it goes on your credit report even if you decide against going through with it. A Chapter 13 filing remains on your credit report for seven years. For more information, see When Can I Get a Bankruptcy Off My Credit Report?.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Have you talked to both dealerships about it? What do they say?

  • eb

    Unfortunately, some collections companies don’t perform thorough investigations. However, it’s also common for disputes to be lacking. Did you send in contrary evidence (for instance, a copy of identification showing her correct name and address)? Did you send it to the collector, or to the credit reporting agency (who likely did the erroneous match-up)? Did you request proof of the debt? If all those failed, and you suffered an actual loss due to your credit score, it may be time to obtain an attorney or take action through small claims court.

  • eb

    I think you mean the accounts have to be removed from reporting, and yes, that’s correct: a collector has 30 days to respond or remove it. It’s worth noting they only need to respond once, and only to written disputes. And unless you have some issue that actually requires an investigation they’re likely to just send you a copy of the original bill.

  • eb

    What rights do you give up?

    The best method depends a great deal on what you’re disputing, and what you’re trying to accomplish. Repetitive online disputes on paid accounts, for instance, are more likely to result in a quick deletion, while mailed disputes are more likely to get information or attention to an account that isn’t yours, but repeats are easier to ignore. Return receipts and demands for a response also give your current address, which may be a bad idea.

    • Beney

      You will want to contact a credit expert for complete information. In a nutshell, NEVER communicate with a creditor or collector by any means other than postal mail, and always use Certified Mail to get a receipt verifying and documenting the delivery.

    • Beney

      eb: Read CAREFULLY the terms and conditions of the website. The actual rights you relinquish will NOT be spelled out there. However, anything describing limitations on how the dispute will be settled may restrict your rights later on.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Where is she getting her score? It’s important to know the credit score range being used. However, I would generally say that score is on the low side. I’d suggest she get her get your free credit score from so she can see what factors need some work and get an action plan for her credit.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    If the furnisher (company reporting it) was aware of the error and made the correction they must report it to all the agencies they supplied it to. But if you disputed it directly with Experian, then no. The three major credit reporting agencies don’t share information with each other.

  • Credit Experts

    Yes, you will no longer be vulnerable to a lawsuit or judgment (and possible wage garnishment) for the debt. The black mark on your credit becomes less important as time goes on. Also, having good things on your report (paying on time) helps as well.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    You need to talk with your mortgage loan officer about rapid rescore. With a letter from the lender he or she should be able to get a quick correction so you can close your loan. But it has to be done a certain way and your lender should have the details.

  • dianaricardo1

    Hello, I have a question regarding a past foreclosure, I do not know if this is something I can dispute but in 09 I lost my home and went into foreclosure, in 2011 the home was sold back to the lender but the bank that I got my loan from continued reporting on my account until 2012. My question is were they suppose to stop reporting this account once the lender purchased the property back? because now that I am applying for a new mortgage they inform the that since my bank reported until 2012 I need to wait three years after that, thank you

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am sorry but it’s not clear what you mean by “continued reporting.” What did they report?

  • Credit Experts

    The date used to report it should be when it was reported delinquent by the original creditor. You can read more about the problem (and what you can do) here:
    Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage
    Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • Lindsey

    I had a marathon gas card, never went deliquent and paid it off back in 2011….but in 2011 something from Marathon for a derogatory $38 was reported to all three bueau’s. I have the invoices and copy of a cancelled check showing a zero balance, I’ve contacted marathon and since the account was paid and closed in 2011 they have purged the records and no longer have me in the system. Should I request they go into storage and dig out actual paperwork? They gave me Comenity Bank’s info to dispute, but what else can I do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      They should be able to back up the late payment they are reporting. I’d suggest you either talk with a consumer law attorney or file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I am not familiar with all the legalities involved, but if it were me I’d dispute it. It sounds like the date should be 10-6-2011 to me. I’d suggest disputing it in writing with the three major credit reporting agencies. If that doesn’t work, I’d take it up with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or a consumer law attorney. Will you let me know how it turns out?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Are you absolutely certain nothing else in your credit report changed? A charge off is negative regardless and so I’d be surprised that would make that much of a difference. How are you monitoring your report and score? What service are you using?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Jenni – So sorry for your loss. Were you a cosigner on the loan for the home? If so then it will appear on your credit reports. Have you talked to your attorney about whether they may be able to pursue you for a possible deficiency?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    If it were me I would try as hard as I could but you’re dealing with a governmental agency, which always makes it that much more fun. Have you talked with the collection agency? It may be they won’t report it if you pay it right away.

  • t.massey

    hi i had a car that was owing only 3500 on it, paid over 80% of the bal, and lost job. i could not make payments and therefore the car was repoed 05/13/14 and the leader decided to sell it at privet sell 5/23/14. i pulled my credit report 8/04/14 and seen the car on my report with a pass due of 4200. called the car place they sate they have not sold the car yet. i want to know can they put the car on my report as me owing 4200 and they have the car and have not sold it. what if i pay it off and they resell it on their lot for more money. i need to know if they are allowed to mess my report up when the car has not been sold as of 05/23/14

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Who is the lender?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Sorry for the delay in responding. I ran your question by Barry Paperno who worked at FICO for many years (you may have seen some of his articles on our blog) and here was his response:

    “My best guess is that updating the account to remove the closed description also updated the reporting date, which with a balance and past due probably showing (since it was an unpaid charge-off), caused it to be included in utilization and/or dinged it for having a past due amount. If before this it had last been reported a few years ago, the account was no longer being included in utilization or being penalized for the past due amount, as accounts are excluded from such calculations once the last reporting date is more than a year old.

    Of course, I can’t be sure of this, but if the consumer can confirm the reporting date changed, and that there’s a balance and past due still showing, that’s what I’ll bet happened.”

  • Momx07

    When disputing something on your credit report, what part of the report do I include when mailing to the three credit bureaus? The whole thing or only the page listing the account in question?

    • Credit Experts

      The part in question, along with information that supports your dispute. (Or you can dispute online, but disputing via certified mail is better when you need to send supporting documents.) Here’s a guide:
      A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes.

  • joyce

    How do you get your name off of aloan that you are not on anymore?

    • Credit Experts

      Could you help us understand the question a little better? Generally you are not on a loan because your name is off. If your name is still on the loan, you can still be held responsible for it.

  • Credit Experts

    Agreed — the timing of a dispute can affect mortgage approval. We wrote about it here: How a Credit Report Dispute Could Stop You from Buying a Home

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Are you willing to file an identity theft fraud affidavit? That’s really what this is.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I can empathize with you. It certainly would be the kind of thing that could happen to anyone considering how hectic life can be. Have you contacted Citi to find out what happened on their end? Did they failed to send you a statement for example? Maybe they have the wrong address? I would check with them first and see if they are willing to help you. Let us know what they have to say.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    We are hearing quite a few of these complaints about cell phone bills that wind up in collections couple of years later. I suggest that you exercise your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    Did you get written notification of the debt from the collection agency? If not, request it. Once you receive the notification immediately write to the collection agency disputing the debt. Tell them you don’t believe you owe it and you want them to verify it. Send your letter by certified mail. If they still can’t produce any documentation showing that you owe the debt, then I would suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which oversees both credit reporting agencies and debt collectors.

    Make sure you have copies of your credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies. You can also separately dispute the listing on each credit report, and I would recommend you do that by mail directly with the credit reporting agencies. Again, send your dispute by certified mail.

    Finally, I will encourage you to get your credit score from We use a different bureau than the one you are currently getting, and it would be good to monitor both.

    • CarrierDispute

      This should all be done with a typed letter instead of a hand-written letter, correct?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Either way is fine – as long as your handwriting is legible!

    • CarrierDispute

      Gerri, is it common for the collection agency to be located in a different state then I am in? I live in GA, the agency (Alliance One Inc) provided me a PO Box address in PA. I tried searching for them but another company with same name and locations not in PA returned.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        It is not uncommon. That’s especially true if you are dealing with a creditor that operates in multiple states (as opposed to say a medical provider who contracts with a local collection agency.) However, depending on your states laws, they may need to be licensed and/or bonded in your state. Your state Atty. Gen. should be able to tell you that.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Yes, generally they must get back to you within 30 days to confirm the item or delete it. However, I doubt the November/December part holds true anymore given how large and sophisticated – and automated – they have become. In fact, some of them outsource this function overseas.

    • az

      Gerri, thank you so much for your response.

      I found a few issues and wanted to get your feedback strategy. In each situation, should I first solely dispute with the company attempting to collect or notify both the company and credit reports?

      This happened on two occasions: (i) my mother added me as an authorized user to one of her cards before she passed away [2008] and its now registered as multiple years/cotinuous months as a bad debt on my reports and (ii) a few medical bills [from 2011] that went to collections a few years ago.

      Thanks in advance!

      • Gerri Detweiler

        In the case of the authorized user accounts, I would recommend you contact the companess first and asked to be taken off the accounts. While you are at it, ask them to stop reporting it under your information. The medical bills are trickier. Have you talked to the companies that are trying to collect? Are they willing to stop reporting in exchange for payment? Most don’t like to do that but sometimes they will, especially if there are extenuating circumstances.

  • Abby

    Hello, until about 6 months ago I was living in Japan. I used the local Japanese cell phone carrier AU. Very long story short, my account was suppose to be cancelled in June, however they continued to charge me for June, July and August. I have explained to them I will not pay the cancellation fees until I am refunded for those three months. Now that I am back in the U.S. with the account still not cancelled, how likely will the Japanese company pursue this debt with an international collection agency. Does the Japanese collections have any weight in our credit report? Thanks.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I doubt this company is set up to report in the US. And I also doubt it’s enough money for them to pursue it in the US. However, I can’t say for certain. I’m not sure what you mean by an international credit bureau but there’s no sharing information among credit bureaus from other countries with the US. This article may help:
      Credit Olympics: Credit Reports Around the World


    I would like to get some advice from ANYONE…. Over a year ago I financed a new vehicle through a “well known” dealer and have proof that I continually made payments on time but as I went to try and trade in my vehicle two years later, I find out the company that did my financing never reported a single payment. Every month I always requested a statement showing my balance, interest pretty much whatever is due and NEVER received anything. So like I said two years later I am being told I have no proof of pretty much owning my vehicle. Any advice of where to begin would be great! Thank You for your time.

    • Credit Experts

      What kind of proof do you have? And do you also have a contract showing exactly what was due and when? Not all creditors report to credit bureaus, though.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Yes. However, the agency may have to be licensed and/or bonded in your state. Check with your Attorney General’s office to find out.

  • Michael Bovee

    If you do not recognize the account as yours, and how could you with dates that are potentially years apart, perhaps dispute it as not yours. The responsibility will be for them to investigate.

    You can also dispute the date, but that would be my fallback position if I were in your shoes.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Business credit cards are exempted from some of the consumer protections provided under federal law. I would recommend you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • ticked

    I’ve been fighting with T-Mobile and midland credit management for two years they are trying to charge me for a phone that was returned. I’ve tried to dispute it with midland and after I fill out and send in their form when I call to check on the status (literally every time now) they say we never got it and that the person I spoke with has never worked their. T-Mobile confirmed that it was bill incorrectly that they had the phone and have since sold it. I can’t get midland to do anything however. What should I do to get this off my report? Is it just time to get a lawyer?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      That would be my suggestion. You may have a case for credit damage. You could talk to a consumer law attorney with experience in credit reporting disputes. If you are sure how to find one you can try visiting the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. The other option would be to complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Credit Experts

    Leonard — you can try speaking, but in your case writing may work better.

    Try following the steps in A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes. Additionally, because these transactions are on your credit report, you should mail all three credit reporting agencies copies of your birth certificate and tell them you were 4 years old when these transactions occurred and are not responsible. Send it certified mail, and keep careful records. That should help you clear it up. Good luck to you.

  • Gerri Detweiler


    When you owe the federal government a debt, different rules apply. (No surprise there right?) So whether it is a student loan, an SBA guaranteed loan, taxes, etc., the government has additional collection powers that creditors may not. For example, they may be able to go after your tax refund or Social Security income that would normally be off-limits to creditors.

    If you think they are in accurately reporting this to the credit reporting agencies you can certainly try disputing it. You may also want to try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    I’m just not sure whether this item is in accurately reported, because I’m not familiar with that type of debt.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    You can dispute the mistake in your credit reports. Follow the instructions in this article to file a dispute. If that doesn’t resolve this, let us now.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Have you called them to talk to them about this on the phone? If so, what happened when you did? If not, I’d suggest that as your next step. Let us know what they say.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    The credit card can be reported for seven years even though it was discharged in bankruptcy. However, the mortgage not reporting sounds like a mystery. Have you contacted TransUnion about it? What did they say?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    You want to ask them to pull it back from collections so you can pay them back directly. We wrote about that in this article: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit</a

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Normally, I would just tell you to dispute the account with the credit reporting agencies directly. However, since you are in the process of getting a mortgage, then you are correct: you don’t want to initiate a dispute that could hold up your loan. Talk to your loan officer. They should have access to something called rapid rescore or a similar service. This allows them to submit information and get the credit report fixed without adding a dispute to the mix. Your loan officer should be able to tell you a proper procedure for this.How a Credit Report Dispute Could Stop You From Buying a Home

  • Disgusted with false reporting

    I have not been late on a payment for YEARS, and this BOGUS ‘credit reporting agency’ puts it out that I don’t pay my bills. I have proof from viable agencies that I have paid my bills on time, every time for years. I am turning them over to the AG.

  • dede

    Hi, i am a current student and i previously attended a college I withdrew from. All the funds that were given were return to the dept. of education along with the Pell grants as well. The school is saying that since I withdrew from classes i need to pay back the total cost of the classes attended. Long story short the school sent the bill to a collection agency. How do I get this removed from my credit report since the funds were returned?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      The first step is to send a certified letter to the collection agency stating you don’t believe you owe the debt and asking them to validate it. Then you need to clarify whether you were still on the hook for those classes even though your financial aid was returned. Unfortunately, I don’t know whether they are correct or not. You may need to get advice from a third party such as your state attorney general’s office or a consumer law attorney.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    It’s probably because the bank is using a different scoring model than the one that is being used to provide you with your credit monitoring service. The credit score range scale for those two credit scores may be different. We wrote more about that in the story: What Is a Good Credit Score?

  • Kevin

    I still have a chapter 7 BK on my credit back from Feb 2004. It is well past 10 years, so how do I get this removed from my credit report?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Have you disputed it with each of the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it? If not that’s your next step. I would encourage you to get a current copy of your free annual credit reports from all three bureaus then file disputes. Let us know what happens!

  • Credit Experts
  • Credit Experts

    Is the collections from the school itself or from a collection agency? If it’s directly from the school, you could file a complaint with the Financial Credit Protection Bureau, and send a copy to the school. Otherwise, you can send documentation of when you started school to the credit reporting bureaus.

    • Ty

      The collection is from an agency. I am disputing it right now. But, i am unsure if I could have it removed. They origniation date of the loan is wrong and i most definately dont trust the amount they are asking me to pay.

      • Credit Experts

        You are also entitled by federal law to a “validation of the debt” by mail if you request it. It’s important to get any billing errors cleared up to make sure you pay the right amount to the right creditor.

    • Ty

      It is directly from the school. I’m not sure if i can still have it removed. but, i did dispute it with the credit bureau

  • Credit Experts

    You can send the documentation to the credit bureaus. Be sure to send it certified mail, and keep copies of all correspondence. Here’s how to do it: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Was the doctor a participating provider in your insurance plan at the time? Do you still have the same insurance? If so contact the insurance company and ask about their policies for “balance billing.” Typically the medical providers contracts with the insurance companies (if they are in network) prohibit them from billing the patient if they failed to bill insurance and were provided with that information. Also how recetly did you find out about this and what state do you live in?

  • Kischa Dial

    Once you request “Validation of Debt” from a supposed creditor, how long do they have to respond?

    • Credit Experts

      Five business days.

      • rose

        if they dont respond what do we do then.

        • Credit Experts

          File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A legitimate debt collector should comply with the law. But there are debt collection scams. It’s important that you pay the person or company that owns the debt. For more, see The Ultimate Guide to Debt Collectors

  • Amb

    I can’t seem to close open accounts in my collections. However i’ve already called the creditors and they tell me all my accounts have already been paid and are closed on their end and have been for over a year. However they managed to some how associate my information with someone else and my credit is taking the hit for it. I do know how else to handle this situation its becoming extremely frustrating.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Follow the steps in the article and dispute the incorrect accounts with the credit reporting agencies and keep records of your disputes. If they don’t remove them, you can either talk with a consumer law attorney as you may have a case for credit damage, or you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Sarah

    I noticed on my credit report in April that I had a past due Verizon account. I don’t currently have a Verizon account so when I looked into it, I discovered that the account was one that I had for internet service in 2006-2007. I had transferred the account to my roommate when I moved out of the apartment. Apparently service was terminated in late 2012 and the last tenant failed to pay the last bill. I had no idea that the account was still open and my name definitely should not have still been associated with the account. From what I can tell, when the last person closed the account and neglected to pay, it reverted back to my name. I have sent disputes to both Verizon and the collection agency that held the account. I never heard a response from either. I checked into it again yesterday and found out that it is currently held by a different collection agency. They informed me that because the account was originally mine, I am responsible. I have had no connection the account since August 2007. I have received no bills for this account since August 2007. I don’t even know who was still living in the apartment in 2012. My credit score has gone down at least 100 points because of this. Should I contact an attorney? Is it considered fraud that someone was using my name/account for all of these years? I have tried to speak with someone at Verizon, but their automated system transfers me immediately to the collection agency and my dispute letter went unanswered.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Unfortunately you are probably going to need to consult an attorney. I doubt you are going to get far just talking with Verizon. Please let us know what happens.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I would suggest you consult a consumer law attorney. You may have a case for credit damage. My only concern is that they probably have a mandatory arbitration agreement but since you never signed anything you may not be subject to that. I don’t think it would hurt to check with one. Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates to find one in your area.

    If that route doesn’t work or if you really don’t want to talk with an attorney then you may want to try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    Make sure you’re keeping copies of your credit reports and credit score is this information can be useful in proving a credit damage case.

    • at a loss

      I intend to make a complaint to the New york State Atty General. Dish has a poor record in NY and have been sued by NY in the past.

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Let us know what happens!

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Did you have credit under your tax ID number? If not then the point is moot. You can simply start establishing credit under your Social Security number.


    I have an issue. I have great credit and I just sold my house. Went to obtain new financing to purchase a new home and was told I had “mortgage lates” on my credit report. I have never been late. Called the bank who holds my mortgage and they applied 2 payments I had sent in May (1 to the payment and 1 to principle) even though there was no indication to apply this to the principle. Thus, they said my June and all payments after that were late. Even thougth they were received on time. The bank agreed it was their error and have been working to fix it for 3 weeks and it is still on my credit report and I still can’t get financing. I don’t want to lose the new house to another sale. Do I have any options?

    • Credit Experts

      Wow. What a mess. Have you disputed this with the credit reporting agencies? (You should be sure you have documentation from your bank to accompany your dispute.) It can take about 30 days for your credit reports to update. You can and should check your own credit reports to see what is there. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports. Another idea: Is the bank that acknowledges making the mistake that is holding up your mortgage application willing to lend you the money?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    You should definitely dispute it. Don’t be discouraged by all the comments you read. Remember that people often write in after they have had problems! The majority of disputes are resolved satisfactorily.

    You sound motivated, so just start a file and start disputing. Since this is a serious mistake affecting your credit, I encourage you to put your dispute in writing and send it certified mail. If you haven’t done so, I suggest you also dispute it with the collection agency – in writing – if you haven’t done so already.

    This may be a pain to deal with but I believe you can resolve it. If you can’t do it on your own, you may well have the basis for a credit damage lawsuit. If you’ve already gone through these steps and it has not been fixed, that would be my suggestion for your next step.

    Oh and make sure you have copies of your credit reports to prove the damage to your credit. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    If they fail to correct errors you may be entitled to damages under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. You could also try filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Most mistakes are resolved without problems. Naturally consumers who comment are usually those experiencing problems. It shouldn’t scare you – we do have a federal law that applies here.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t know what the circumstances are that led to the medical bills reporting on your credit reports. If there was truly a billing mistake (they never sent you a bill for example) then you could try to push harder to get it removed. If it was just a situation where you couldn’t pay the bill at the time then I think you may just be stuck with the one.

  • Rose

    Hello. I have the following question. My son rented an apt. while attending the University. I was the guarantor during the first year of his rental term. However I later noticed that the guarantee form did not list the date, term, nor the apartment number, therefore making it incomplete and invalid in my eyes. My son remained there 2.5 years and paid punctually. However, he decided to move out 2 months prior to the end of the lease and voluntarily paid $200 according to contract terms to assist the office in finding another tenant. They did, but are still charging my son for the 2 months he moved out early. This is affecting both his credit and mine as the guarantor although I have an excellent credit from all past history. .Can they do that to my record although the guarantor form was not completed in its entirety??

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Rose – You’ll need to contact a local attorney who can help you ascertain if the contract was legal. Unfortunately that’s not something we can determine.


    I noticed on my Victoria’s Secret Credit Card account that my account had been given a zero balance. I contacted them with concern, and was informed that my card was placed in CH 7 bankruptcy status. I informed them that I have never filed or inquired about bankruptcy and was given the run around for about a week. I was even told that I had to show proof that I did not file. It was very frustrating. They refused to inform me of the reporting company. I contacted the bankruptcy agency for the state and it showed no submissions of bankruptcy associated with my name or social. I also contacted the bank that is associated with this card and they didn’t show any history of bankruptcy either. I reviewed my credit report with all bureaus and they showed no history as well. In the attempt to prevent this from going to my credit report, I continued to contact several customer service reps to receive some assistance with no success. This has now been reported to my credit reports as I have been searching for a home. It has had a very negative impact on my score. After all of this, I finally received a letter from VS stating that they have submitted their mistake to the credit bureaus, but this has now halted the home buying process for me due to my low credit score caused by this mistake. Should I accept this letter and move-on or should I contact a consumer law attorney due to my credit damage, and the “halted” process of me purchasing a home. I have missed out on a home that I was interested in due to this “mistake”.

    • Credit Experts

      We’re not lawyers, but a consultation with one to explore the possibility of suing for credit damage might be a good idea. It can’t hurt to ask. In many cases consultations are free.

  • Epiphany

    I have an adverse item on my credit report for a Brighthouse Networks account that I had in a different city about 4 years ago. However, I do not recall having a balance with this company and I never have received any communications of any kind from a collection agency. I contacted the company (Brighthouse) and they told me I had to contact Credit Management (their creditor) and they would let me know how much I had to pay and to whom I had to pay it. However, when I contacted them, 2 different representatives told me that they have nothing in my name. They checked with my name and complete social security number. So, after all of that I was told that I needed to dispute it with the 3 credit bureaus directly. I am trying to get a loan for a new car and I just want this cleared up but I don’t know if disputing it will be fast enough or what!

    • Credit Experts

      It can take up to 30 days for a change to be made. Have you checked all three of your credit reports? You may need to dispute the item with all of them. Also, do you have an idea of your credit scores? Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free. The further this collections fades into the past, the less impact it will have on your scores. In other words, this is a much smaller problem than if it were more recent. You might also find this post useful: The First Thing to Do Before Buying a Car

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Happy to help.

    1. Credit reporting is voluntary. The collection agency may be just stating their policy. To be fair, under the contracts they sign with the credit reporting agencies they aren’t supposed to do “pay for removal” deals.

    2. No, unfortunately, under most credit scoring models used today paying or settling a collection account doesn’t help your credit scores.

    3. Collection accounts are reported for seven years plus 180 days from the date the payment should have been made to the original creditor. A payment (or non-payment) won’t change that.

    You’ll find more in this article: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Yes – you need to insist that the medical provider pull it out of collections or write a letter you can give to the collection agency asking them to remove it. We wrote more about that here: Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

  • Gerri Detweiler

    If it’s already with collections then they won’t be able to change how it reports unfortunately.

Sign up for your free account. Learn More
  • Meet Our Expert

    gerri_detweiler GravatarGerri Detweiler is's Director of Consumer Education. She focuses on helping people understand their credit and debt, and writes about those issues, as well as financial legislation, budgeting, debt recovery and savings strategies. She is also the co-author of Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights, and Reduce Stress: Real-Life Solutions for Solving Your Credit Crisis as well as host of
  • Stay Connected to Our Experts

    Please submit your email address to get credit & money tips & advice
    from our team of 30+ experts, delivered weekly to your inbox.

Start Maximizing Your Credit Today

Credit ReportsGet a FREE personalized credit check-up today.

Get Started – It’s Free!