Home > Credit Score > A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

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The information in your credit reports is what’s used to create your credit scores, so you don’t want to let mistakes on your credit reports potentially throw your credit scores out of whack.

An FTC study released today shows that one in five consumers have errors on their credit reports and 5% of consumers have errors serious enough that they could result in less favorable loan terms.

“These are eye-opening numbers for American consumers,” said Howard Shelanski, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics, in a statement.  “The results of this first-of-its-kind study make it clear that consumers should check their credit reports regularly.  If they don’t, they are potentially putting their pocketbooks at risk.”

Here’s how to dispute credit report mistakes, step-by-step:

1. Order Current Copies of Your Credit Reports

Make sure you have fairly current copies (ideally, less than 60 days old) of your credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs), Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Since these agencies don’t share information with one another, you can’t assume that the same mistakes — or lack of them — appear on all your reports.

2. Dispute the Mistake

Sounds straightforward, right? But you have a couple of choices to make here. The first is whether to dispute the item with the credit reporting agency (or agencies) whose report(s) shows the error, or with the company that is furnishing that information to the CRA (the “furnisher.”)

Dispute the mistake with each of the credit reporting agencies that are reporting the inaccurate information if:

  • It’s something not supplied by a furnisher that you can contact; for example, a wrong address, or incorrect public record information such as a judgment would require you to work with the CRA.
  • The information reported doesn’t belong to you.

Dispute the mistake with the furnisher if:

  • You have documentation that will show the furnisher that they are making a mistake in how they report the information to the credit reporting agencies; for example, copies of correspondence documenting a billing error.
  • You’ve already disputed the item with the CRA and it has confirmed the information is “correct” and you want to go to the source.

Note, though, that you always must dispute the item with the credit reporting agencies that are reporting it before you can sue for credit damage. For that reason, some consumer law attorneys recommend sending a dispute to the CRAs and filing a copy of that dispute with the furnisher.

Your second choice is whether to dispute the item online or by mail. Filing online is fast and easy, and you don’t have to spring for a stamp, but you’ll want to make the extra effort to mail your complaint if:

  • It doesn’t fall neatly into one of the CRA’s dispute categories. If you dispute it online, you’ll likely have to choose a reason for the dispute from a menu that gives you a few standard choices. If you need to provide a more detailed explanation, a letter may be your best bet.
  • You’re giving up your rights online. Before you dispute a credit report mistake online, read the website terms and conditions to make sure you aren’t agreeing to mandatory binding arbitration, which means you forfeit your right to have your day in court if it is not resolved.
  • You have proof of your side of the story. If you have documentation that the information is wrong, you’ll want to include it in your written dispute.
  • This is your second attempt to get it right. If you received a response from the credit reporting agency that says the data is correct, but you know it’s not, you may want to follow up with a letter.

Always send written disputes by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy for your records. You may even want to get your letter notarized if you want the CRA’s attention.

3. Wait For a Response

The CRA or furnisher has 30 days to get back to you with a response. If the information is corrected or deleted, skip to step six. If not, go to the next step.

4. Escalate Your Dispute

If you are told the information is correct, but you know it’s wrong, you’ll need to escalate your dispute. Send a letter to the CRA and/or furnisher stating why you believe the conclusion is wrong, and CC: the Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Send copies of your dispute to those agencies.

5. Talk with a Consumer Law Attorney

If your attempts to fix the problem don’t work, then you may want to talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in consumer credit disputes. The website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates is a good place to start.

6. Keep Records of Your Dispute

Put all your records of your dispute (copies if your credit reports, letters of correspondence, printed copies of emails or online responses, etc.) into a file and put it in a place where you can get to it if the same data appears on your file again.

7. Monitor Your Credit Reports

At a minimum, you can order your credit reports for free once a year, and use a credit monitoring tool (our Credit Report Card gives you two free credit scores and is a good way to keep tabs on things). If you monitor your credit reports and scores closely, you’ll be alerted quickly to any problems. Credit reporting agencies are not supposed to reinsert items that were deleted as the result of a dispute without notifying you first, but it can happen.

For more Credit 101, check out these posts:

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  • Jeanine Skowronski

    This article may be helpful: https://www.credit.com/debt/old-tax-liens-on-your-credit-report/



  • Jeanine Skowronski

    Yes, they’re independent of one another, so you will have to dispute the info with all three.

  • salvador

    where can I dispute a charge from Sprint from 10 years ago?
    I had sprint in the early 2000’s. I was never late and I made them off in full before I switched over to T-Mobile. they are stating that I owe them XXX amount of dollars but I haven’t used sprint or owned any of their products since I switched to tmobile.
    thank you

  • Jack Green


    I had a judgment on my name but had no idea i will make the story short they sent the judgment later to my dads house i didn’t live there anymore the gave over the later to my under age sister that’s why i never knew i only found this things out from the court papers, so when i found out i started fighting with the company that they gave it over to someone they shouldn’t off by the end they sent me a later and they took it off.

    My question is the credit bureau only updates there records every 6 months how do i get them my later and they should take it off right away?

    Thanks for your help, Jack

  • Jill

    Good Morning,
    I am listed as an authorized user on my company’s credit card so I can make payments for my boss. I am not responsible for the balances or the funds to pay- merely just make the payments for him. I have been on this account since Jan 2015 and as of yesterday it is showing up on my credit report and dropped my score 136 points! I went from perfect credit to poor overnight. I have multiple personal accounts that are always on a zero balance and paid promptly. I called the credit card company and they said it should not affect my score but there is nothing else they can do. I put in disputes with both Transunion and Equifax but I need this fixed asap! If they remove that account from my report will it be restored to its prior score? I’m trying to buy a car and now cannot because my score is so low. Any other action I can take to remedy this? I am sick to my stomach over it.

    • http://blog.credit.com/ Kali Geldis

      Hi Jill —

      We’ve written about authorized user accounts before and how they affect your credit score, take a read here to answer any lingering questions:

      Have you checked your Experian credit report to make sure the account doesn’t appear there as well? If you have an error on your credit report with each bureau, you need to dispute it with all three bureaus to get it removed. If you continue to have issues getting the card removed from your account or don’t want to deal with getting it removed, you may also want to look into hiring someone to help (for a fee, of course). It may be worth it in the long run. (You can read more about the pros and cons of that option here: https://www.credit.com/credit-reports/the-truth-about-credit-repair/)

  • Alfonso

    if i have one collection with wrong name only with one letter ?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Can you clarify your question?

  • Charlie

    I have a bankruptcy that was closed 10 years ago this month. Will it automatically now come off my credit report or will I have to file to have it removed. Thank you.

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi, Charlie,

      Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, bankruptcies can be reported for ten year from the filing date (not the discharge date, which comes later). If this date has passed and the bankruptcy is still appearing on one or all of your credit reports, you can contact the credit bureaus to dispute it. You can find more information here: • When Can I Get a Bankruptcy Off My Credit Report?

  • mj1ton

    Thank you for info.

    Here is my situation. It is a little confusing, but I will try to make it clear. It started in 2010, I was a T-Mobile prepaid customer (Account 1). I made my prepayment for the service cycle. The nature of a prepaid account is to “prepay for service.” In the beginning of the service cycle I closed the prepaid (Account 1) and opened a postpaid account (Account 2). T-Mobile transferred the prepaid Account 1 balance (credit) to the postpaid Account 2. Makes sense, right? Fast forward to December 2013 I closed to postpaid Account 2. They kept billing thru March 2014. After battling with them I got a final bill for $5. Meanwhile, January 2014 they placed me in collections (Collections 1) for the amount they transferred (remember it was a credit balance) from Account 1. Unfortunately I was not using any monitoring service, was unknown until I got a service in March 2015. In addition Account 1 had old address and Account 2 had new address. I moved in 2011. July 2015, after months and months of battling the collection company/T-Mobile the collections was recalled (and off my credit report) for Account 1/Collections 1. August 2015 I get a calls/letters from another collection company (Collections 2) for the transferred amount. This time it was on the postpaid account (Account 2). After letters and phone calls with (Collections 2) no result was given and Collections 2 never reported the collection on my credit report. Now September 2015 I get a credit alert of a new collections on my credit report. It is for Collections 1. They now are trying to collect on Account 2. T-Mobile is a multi-billion dollar company, do they really need to extort $98.77 from me?

    Keep in mind I have final bills from Account 1 -$0.05 and Account 2. $5.00 (I did try to pay in T-Mobile store but balance had be written off). Please advise!

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Have you tried going higher up at T-Mobile? Christopher Elliott, one of our contributors, lists the executive contacts for them on his website here: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/t-mobile/ If that doesn’t work, please let us know.

  • Rhonda Smith

    I have a question regarding a debt that I believe may be outside the statute of limitations. I was just contacted by a debt collector regarding a debt that he says I have not made a payment on since 2008. I live in Illinois. The debt did appear on my credit report previously (back in 2009) but has since been removed because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. And if I’m correct, the statute of limitations for credit card debt in Illinois is five years. I do plan to ask for validity of the debt in writing including the date the account was opened and the last date a payment was made. I would like to know if 1) they could put the debt back on my credit report and 2) are they able to file suit against me for this debt? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      A delinquent account can be listed for 7.5 years after the last activity. If that criterion has been met, it should not go back on your credit report. You can dispute it as a time-barred debt. Could they file suit? Yes, and your defense would be that the debt is time-barred. But you never want to ignore a lawsuit. There is a potential for the plaintiff to get a judgment if you are not there to offer a defense.

  • john white

    I am looking for lenders for a home loan. i have a good job as a RN and wants to buy a home in a different state but the loan people denied me despite i have a score of 740 and have 4.5% down payment for the property. I was denied on the ground that i do not yet have a job in the state the property is at since i consider it a primary property.
    I have never been without a job in the last 11 years and intend to get a job in the same line of career am doing even before relocating. please advice what i should do cos i love this property and don’t want to loose it.

    • ScottSheldonLoans


      Great question! This is something most lenders will not tell you until they start opening up your financial picture. I actually just wrote about this last week, here’s the link http://blog.credit.com/2015/07/the-surprising-way-your-job-can-impact-your-mortgage-121451/.

      I would imagine your income is pretty strong being a registered nurse. Here’s the deal you need to have a job lined up in the area in the state in which the property is located. A reasonable commute time from your home to your occupation needs to make sense typically this time frame is about an hour away. Unless you have the ability to work from home or telecommute, this condition is going to come up like it has for you. It probably would not make sense for registered nurse to telecommute or work from home unless they had a specific letter from their employer or a job description from their letter detailing that maybe they perform their medical duties online from home with one of those telecommuting robots for example.. Sounds crazy right? But it is absolutely a concern for the lender because they need to demonstrate that it truly is a primary home. Alternatively, as your income is so high, maybe you purchase the home as a second home? Doing so would require a 10% down payment slightly more skin in the game that you’re 4.5% down payment, but that would hold more water in terms of getting around that make sense piece of. The interest rate in the pricing remains identical the only differences needing 10% down.

      A recap:
      – to secure primary home financing you’ll need to have a job lined up there whatever state that is
      – Alternatively a very strong letter of explanation both from you and your employer and/or a copy of your job description that explains how you live in one state and have a primary home and another as a registered nurse would need to make sense
      -purchase the home as a second home instead with 10% down
      – If any of these options are still going to be problematic for you you could always purchase the property with 20% down as an investment property and use projected fair market rents to qualify which would make sense and would help if there’s any income issues

  • Casilda Clarke

    Upon checking my credit score about a week ago, I came across an account in collection for DirecTv, up contactng DirecTv, I was informed about the bill for $191 on my stepmothers’ name, bearing in mind, it was originally opened the account on my name, however with the change in name on the account, without my permission, how can I dispute such a claim.

    And for more clarification sake, about a month I received a letter in the mail from a debt collector in my mailbox about addressed to my stepmother who has never resided at my address, I opened the letter and ignored it, which shows an account in collection for Directv for $191, prior to that a week ago I receivd a call from the collection agency askin to speak to her, and I don’t now where they got my phone number from.

    I’ve contacted Equifax to dispute, but I’m not sure as to what would be the best way of disputing this with the collection agency. Please help

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I am afraid I don’t understand the scenario you are describing. Are you saying the service was in your name originally but then transferred to your stepmother’s name? Do you have any confirmation or documentation that the account in your name was paid off?

      • Casilda Clarke

        I lived with my stepmother for a while after which I moved out about 1year and a half ago, upon moving out she had the account transferred to her name

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          See what happens with the credit report dispute. If that doesn’t solve it let us know.

      • Casilda Clarke

        The bills were always appearing to her because she had the account connected to her AT&T account, so I never received a bill directed to me per se

  • Victoria

    Is there something I have to do to get these bad credits to drop off after the 7 years because I am still getting letters and it’s been almost 10 years now.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      If it has been 10 years since there was any activity on the account, you can dispute it as time-barred, using the steps described in the article above.

  • Heidi

    Hi – I have been doing a lot of research however I need to find out what is the best direction to take next in my situation.
    Collection is showing on my credit report from 10/2010. I divorced in 9/2010 and had never applied for this credit card. I contacted the original creditor and they stated they have no information on my ever having this account with them, however, she said that sometimes if they sell them to a collection agency the records follow to that company??
    I called the company that purchased this collection. The lady at this company was very rude and said she cannot give me any information regarding this collection because it is handled through their lawyers??? She gave me a telephone number…
    I have been calling the “lawyers office” for a month now and every time I call they state they cannot talk to me because the file has not fully been transferred? I call the first company back to verify this and she tells me it has been transferred and I can only speak to them??? I just completed a dispute with the credit agency reporting and am stuck?? All I want to do is get verification of contract, signature and items purchased??? What do I do now?? Any information will be so helpful!! Thank you!!!

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Get your credit reports from all three agencies, if you haven’t already. Dispute it directly with the credit bureaus reporting it, not the collection agencies. Keep good records. If it isn’t removed, next step is to talk with a consumer law attorney and/or CFPB. And if you are contacted by the collection agency, send a written request disputing it in writing, via certified mail. (This assumes there is not a judgment on your credit reports. If there is a judgment you’ll need to talk with a consumer law attorney.)

  • Monique Candelario

    Hi, I have a quick question. I just looked at my credit report and saw something called T-Mobile and it’s for utilities and fuel, from July 2014. I tried ti open an account, which I didn’t because I did not like the prices of their contracts and rates. Only thing I provided was my name.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      It sounds like they checked your credit and created an inquiry. It is not unusual for cell phone companies to check credit, but usually that’s when you actually try to open a new account, not just when you are shopping. f you believe this was unauthorized you can dispute it with the credit reporting agencies and file a complaint with the CFPB. More about inquiries here: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

      • Monique Candelario

        I haven’t tried to open a new account, or did I? Remembering now, I think they did check my credit… Thanks so much, you’ve been a big help.

  • parker

    In the most recent mortgage loan experience the lender ran 5 credit checks between february and april 1st. Thinking this is definitely not appropriate is accurate? What is recomended action now the damage is done?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      If you were in the process of getting a mortgage it’s not completely unusual for a lender to check credit more than once…I doubt it would be considered illegal if that’s what you are asking. Inquiries remain on your credit reports for for two years but only affect your credit scores for one. This article may help: Should You Be Worried About Credit Report Inquiries?

  • Credit Help

    I know collection agency can access your credit report but after 7 years when it’s off your record. Can they still access it? If i put a freeze on my credit report, can they still be able to access it also?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      If they are continuing to access your credit report after the statute of limitations has expired and the debt is off your credit reports, I’d suggest you file a complaint with the CFPB. You certainly could place a freeze but that’s going to cost you money to freeze and then unfreeze it. See if the complaint gets them to stop.

  • octavio gutierrez

    If I find errors on my credit report, what steps should I take to correct them

  • Laura Hardin

    I have a bill that I have not paid. The company instead of turning it over to a collection agency, sueing me or reporting it as delinquent has done 3 hard inquiries on my credit. Is this legal?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Yes, creditors may check your credit, but these typically count as soft inquiries rather than hard inquiries.

      • Laura Hardin

        Since it is hard inquiries instead of soft is there anything I can do to change this? It has made my credit score drop by almost 40 points.

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          It’s not illegal that we know of (and we’re not providing legal advice). You could try disputing it with the credit reporting agency to see what happens. If they don’t get removed, they will not likely affect your credit score after twelve months.

          • Laura Hardin

            Thank you.

  • Jo

    I just disputed credit reports on my transunion credit score list. I want to buy a car, will this affect my score for better or worse?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    If you hired an attorney to represent you then please check with them. If not, then you could try disputing it with the credit reporting agency or agencies reporting it. Provide the paperwork from the court that shows it was dismissed. If that doesn’t work, I’d suggest you file a complaint with the CFPB.

    • Barry

      Thanks for the reply Gerri. Yes, I hired an attorney and I just sent him an email asking if he could help.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        Let us know what happens!

  • Grace N Love

    How do you find out who the finisher is for Equifax? I have disputed a Federal Lien ( I have a withdrawal from the IRS) but Equifax keeps “confirming” it and wont delete. They deleted 3 out of 4. The 4th one Equifax has a wrong case number!! They sent a form that has a phone & of the court that I am suppose to contact for more details on case BUT when I call they have no such case and no such lien by my name. That court referred me to Federal Court and County Court, neither of them have any cases by my name or that case number!! IRS says there is nothing they can do because there is no case number in their system either…and that I need to dispute it credit bureau. Which I have done 3 times…I even called Equifax, spoke to someone who did not speak great English and who did not seem to understand or follow what I was explaining. I feel like I am going around and around. How do I find and dispute it with finisher, as obviously they are NOT investigating it.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      It sounds like you have done your part to try to dispute and resolve this, and you have proof. I’d suggest you either get the CFPB involved or talk with a consumer law attorney to find out if you have a case for credit damage.

  • Bubblybeauty

    Hi, thanks for the great info. I have a pretty complicated situation going on, and I’m hoping that you can help. An apartment that I was evicted from back in 2011 decided last year that they were going to finally collect from me. They are asking for $3000+ The problem is that I went in to this apartment complex back in 2012 and asked for the amount that I owed & I was told $1200, two weeks later I called and asked them if I could pay by phone with my credit card and I was told that the debt had been sent to collections and I would just have to pay them. When I checked my credit, it wasn’t there, so u contacted the apartments once again and I was told that I would just have to wait until the debt shows up on my report. After a few months I discovered that the apartments no longer existed. They changed the name of the neighborhood, got new employees and when I went in for info, the new employees told me that they are not affiliated in any way. At this point the debt was still not on my credit do I assumed I had been relieved of the debt. Fast forward to 2014, I had began rebuilding my credit, and monitoring it very close, and noticed the debt. The collection agency was willing to settle for $2000, but I couldn’t afford this, so I went online and found a number for the company that owned the neighborhood. I spoke with them and they were able to lower the amount to $1500, but only if I paid within a month, couldn’t afford it. Once I could afford it, a few months later, I called back and they said they would only accept $1800 which I did not have. At this point I became frustrated and i asked for an invoice with the breakdown of the charges. I received an altered copy of a lease which stated my monthly rent was $840 when in actuality it was $640. I also received an invoice that had two different move in dates. Also, I was told that the company shows that I had two apartments with them (which his incorrect) although the invoice that was sent did not reflect this. I’m at the point where this is the only collection on my credit and I want to buy a new home in the next few months. My question is should I file a dispute since they are collecting for the wrong amount or should I pay the $1800? I’m afraid that since I have no proof of how much I owe and they do, that the investigation will result in their favor, also since they’ve went up on the amount in the past I’m afraid that if I file a dispute, and it doesn’t work, the representative from the company that owned the apartments will get aggravated and decide to collect the whole amount instead of offering the settlement. I’m so frustrstrd, I feel bullied and intimidated and I have no control over the situation. Please help! All advice is welcome. Thanks in advance 🙂

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      If I were in your shoes, I would talk with a consumer law attorney. It sounds you tried to pay what you owed and were never given the opportunity to do that and avoid the damage to your credit. It also like their records are inadequate at best and quite possibly inaccurate. In addition, paying them won’t remove it from your credit and probably won’t help your credit rating. If you need help finding one visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t think it’s necessary.

  • legw

    I had a financial hardship after having my first son, I fell behind on all my credit cards which resulted in one collector taking me to court. The collector didnt show and the court ruled in my favor and dismissed the debt. After trying to get it removed to improve my credit score they reopened the case. I filled out hardship forms and we was to return to court in one year a month later they charge ofg the acct. Can the original judgement from the court stand?

    • http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/ask-a-question/ Michael Bovee

      I am not sure I fully understand what happened here. If I have it correct, you were sued, but that case was dismissed. You were then sued again for the same debt, showed up on court, but had no money to pay, and the court said lets look at your case in a year?

      Look in the court record at that second case. See if a summary judgment was entered. Also look in the records to see what the last entry was for the first case. Does it show a dismissal?

      If your courts records are not free on line, you can often get a helpful clerk on the phone to help you get the details you need.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    The statement of dispute should be removed automatically when the dispute process is done. You can also contact the credit bureau in question and ask that the dispute statement be removed once the dispute process was completed.

  • Amanda

    I reported the problem on my credit report.
    Now it shows as the account is open and now that I owe the balance.
    What should I do now
    Did I just screwed myself over?
    Did my money that I paid just disappear?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Amanda – If you have proof you paid the debt and they are reporting it as unpaid you may have a case for credit damage. You can talk with a consumer law attorney, or if you don’t want to go that route, file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Amanda —
    If your goal is to get the credit reports corrected, you can dispute the error in your credit report and show the credit reporting bureaus your bank statement or canceled check. Once you have filed a dispute, they must do an investigation and resolve it..

  • Amanda

    Would providing my bank statement that I paid my debt with Powell Rodgers & speaks be enough proof?
    They aren’t responding to me at all.
    Or would paying someone to sort all this out for me be the better route?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Who is they? You can get your credit reports corrected by going to the credit bureaus.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Kathi —
    How long ago was this? It’s possible that the bill is no longer collectable or reportable. You can find more information in these posts:
    Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?
    Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I don’t understand what the error is, but if it is wrong and you can’t get it removed then you can either file a complaint with the CFPB or talk with a consumer law attorney who is familiar with credit report disputes. You may have a case for credit damage.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Are you asking how to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy? If so, this article should help:
    How to Rebuild Your Credit After Bankruptcy

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Wow. That is a situation I have never encountered. I’m going to have to ask my contacts at the bureaus about it.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    They should be! I’d recommend you check your credit report in a month or so to make sure. I also recommend you keep track of your credit scores just to make sure one of these deleted accounts doesn’t reappear. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It shouldn’t happen, but it’s not as uncommon as we wish it were. We addressed the problem (and what to do) here:
    Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    CT – you can either talk with a consumer law attorney (visit Naca.net) as you may have a credit damage case, or you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    No, they should not be reporting this. Have you tried sending them copies of documents (such as your birth certificate) to verify your age? If not, consider sending letters by registered mail to all three credit reporting agencies explaining that you were not yet 18 when the debt was incurred, and enclosing documentation that supports what you are telling them.

    And then check to make sure the changes were made. If they were not, you can file a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or, if need be, talk with a consumer law attorney.

    You may also find the information in this post useful:
    Medical Bills and Minors: What You Need to Know

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s very tough to get charge offs that are accurate removed. It would be entirely at the good will of the issuer, and I can’t personally recall an instance where that has happened. You can certainly try, but if you aren’t successful, you may be better off focusing on rebuilding your credit, which you can do even though this is on your credit report.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    It’s not uncommon for a credit card issuer to refuse to open an account for someone who has defaulted previously. If they won’t work with you, perhaps you need to consider another secured card.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Charge-offs can remain for 7 years from the date they were charged off. i agree it’s not clear from what you sent. Contact Equifax and ask them to clarify it then let us know what they say.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Chapter 7 bankruptcies are reported for ten years from the date of filing, not the date of discharge. You can certainly dispute the incorrect information. If it is not confirmed it will be removed. More likely, it will be updated but you never know. Make sure you keep good records of your dispute.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    That’s crazy!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Have you tried calling TransUnion to discuss with someone there? If you do, be sure to take good notes of your conversation. Let us know what they say.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Glad we could help and sorry it wasn’t the answer you were hoping for! However, do keep in mind that as negative information gets older it has less impact on your score provided everything is then paid on time.

  • Greg

    Quick question: If a debt is being reported as a “charge off” and the bank acknowledges that it is not collectible under state law, can it be reported with a balance due or must it be reported with a zero balance?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I consulted with attorney Robert Brennan at Socal Credit Damage and here’s what he said:

      There is no law that requires the bank to report it as “zero balance”. As a practical matter, some people, either voluntarily or involuntarily, make payments on stale debts, which payments then re-start the statute of limitations for the debt. So, the bank is within its rights to report the balance even if the debt is past the statute of limitations. My advice to the consumer would be NOT to make any payments because that would re-start the statute of limitations on the entire debt.

  • Dave

    I have disputed an AT&T collection account on my credit report. I haven’t had an AT&T account since 2006. The collection was open in 2009. Once I disputed it, the collection agency itself contacted me to help verify the collection. Why would they do that and should I respond? Is this normal? I thought they had to confirm all details to the credit bureau. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      If you haven’t had an account since 2006 then I have a hard time imagining how this could legally be reported now. Collection accounts may be reported for 7.5 years from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor leading up to it being placed for collection. When the collection agency acquired it is not relevant. In addition it is likely outside the state statute of limitations (but you’ll want to check).

      The collection agency may have been checking to see if they had the right person – or maybe they want to try to collect. I’d say talk to them but don’t hand out a lot of details. Just tell them you want them to send you written verification of the debt, including when this debt supposedly was incurred. It’s your right under federal law to get that information.

      Will you let us know what happens next?

      • Dave

        Sure thing and thank you for your quick response.

      • Dave

        Great news, just received confirmation from TransUnion that the collection account was removed from my credit report. I had not had the chance to respond to collection agency either.

  • Gerda

    Good Morning, I’m wondering if you could help with an issue on my husbands credit report. We tried to apply for a farm loan and were told they could only pull my Equifax report and that his does not show any entries for at least 7 years and it does not show a FICO score. We thought there was a problem on the lenders end and tried it at our own bank. We were sitting with the bank manager and she tried to pull the credit record, no entries nor a score there either. We ended up ordering a report and found that all newer entries, as car payments, mortgage, student loan, and credit cards come up in the “dispute” section but not in the actual credit history. This is very damaging for us and attempts to resolve it with Equifax have not lead to any luck, they don’t understand what our problem is.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Gerda – Has your husband disputed those accounts? If not, then I would suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • cindy

    Hi, some has gone by, was this resolved in your favor? I hope so, Thank you.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    What do you mean you disputed a debt from 9 years ago? Is it on your credit reports or are they trying to collect from you? Were you contacted by the original creditor or a third party collection agency?

  • Tramiane

    Hi Gerri,

    I have a question regarding inquiries. I noticed I have a few inquiries on my credit report from experian that I did not request on my behalf when seeking credit. I have no idea where they are coming from and it is getting ffrustrating trying to dispute them. Can you offer any advice on how I can dispute these items and get them off all of my credit reports expeditiously. Thanks.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Are they listed as promotional inquiries? If so then those are for prescreened offers and they don’t affect your credit scores. This article may help: Should You Be Worried About Credit Report Inquiries?

      If that’s not the case, feel free to clarify.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    We’ve written about several of your questions in other articles: Will Paying an Old Debt Hurt My Credit Scores? and this one: Debt Collectors Killing Your Credit? Here’s What to Do. I’d suggest you start there, and if you still have additional questions we will do our best to try to point you in the right direction.


    I have question i have dispued some negatives itmes on my credit with experian they have completed the investigation in jan 2014 experian removed two items from my credit report but others still on my credit report and when i tried to dispute again experian says they have investigated this item previously they will not investigate again i told them itsm on my credit they are not accurate like ( balance, date open, date of last payment, date of first delinquency) but they did not help me for dispute my question is how can i dispute the items or anything else i can do to remove them ……….. THANKS

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      If the items are wrong and were not corrected, you have two options – escalate or talk with a consumer law attorney. See points 5 & 6 in my article above.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Ryan – so sorry I didn’t see your question when you submitted it. This is a tough one. Your best bet would be to get the hospital to pull it back from collections and let them pay you directly. If you can do that it should be removed from your credit reports. Reader Stops Mysterious Medical Bill From Damaging Her Credit

    Perhaps you can send them a certified letter explaining what happened and asking them politely to pull it back from collections. If they won’t, you could complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the BBB and your state consumer protection office. (I think you’ll have a tough time trying to get the collection agency to fix it. All they know is that you owe this bill and they need to collect it.)

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    What do you mean by a U.D.? An unlawful detainer? It is true that you have the right to dispute any item that is incorrect or incomplete. I’d recommend you do so in writing to fully protect your rights. Follow the steps in this article and if it is not corrected you can. file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Lori

    Long story short…. I short sold my home 2 1/2 years ago. My lenders changed from First Horizon to Metlife then Nationstar. On my credit report it states that I have a foreclosure from First Horizon. And a paid foreclosure from Nationstar. Come to find out MetLife bought all First Horixon loans and put forclosures on all their customers credit report. MetLife is no longer in business. How do I get this off my credit report?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Credit.com contributor Michael Bovee wrote about a similar issue in this post (the most similar scenario is toward the bottom). Please let us know what happens.

      Credit Report Double Jeopardy Means Double Damage

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    That’s a great question! You can put all three in your letter if you are very clear in that letter. What kinds of mistakes did you find?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Generally my understanding is that it is difficult to sue furnishers – the companies that supply credit report data. If they were aware of the mistake, however, and did not fix it as required by law. you may have a case, depending on the facts and circumstances. If you want to pursue it, I would recommend you talk with a consumer law attorney who can help you understand your options. If you think their procedures for reporting information are sloppy you may want to file a complaint against them with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau instead.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Yuck. Do you have any documentation from your insurance company that it was their mistake? Have you tried talking to the collection agency to see if they will remove it given the circumstances?

    • bocajim

      Well, all but have one has cleared my balance, and one is still reviewing the case. One issue I have with even the ones that cleared my balance is It still shows I was in collections but listed a Paid with 0$ balance. I would prefer they we never listed there at all. I’ve been told they don’t really effect my credit?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Virtually all small business credit card applications require applicants to provide a personal guarantee, which means they are on the hook personally if they default on the debt. And if they are personally liable, it also means that debt can appear on their personal credit reports. Most small business cards do not appear on the owner’s personal credit unless they default, with the exception of Capital One which reports all activity. Credit.com’s Director of Consumer Education wrote about in Capital One Credit Reporting Causes New Problems for Small Businesses.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I know this is frustrating. Collection accounts can be reported for 7 years + 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original lender leading up to when it was placed for collection. Unfortunately, when an account goes unpaid it often gets sold to another agency and when they report it, it will appear as if it is more recent. That’s just how it works. I’d suggest you find out if this debt is outside the statute of limitations. If it is, then you may just want to leave it alone. It sounds like it should come off his reports sometime next year depending on when it was charged off. (About 7 years from the date of charge off will be about the time it should be removed.) Just because the agency picked it up recently doesn’t mean that it starts a new 7-year reporting period. It doesn’t.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You have two choices. One is to complain to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The other is to talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in credit reporting. You may have a case against the credit reporting agency and/or the creditor and may be able entitled to damages. Visit naca.net to find one in your area.

    • bocajim

      thanks, fond a lawyer on that naca.net site and have a meeting tomorrow.

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        Let us know how this turns out for you!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You can certainly talk to a consumer law attorney but it’s my understanding that if they followed the proper procedures to correct the error when you brought it to the attention you won’t have a credit damage case. I am not an attorney, though, so it certainly doesn’t hurt to talk with one. Visit naca.net for a referral.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    First of all, I know it doesn’t feel good to throw good money after bad, but the long-term cost of your credit score dropping by 100 points or more could be significant. So you may want to rethink that. However, unfortunately you may be caught in the middle here. Your brother was a co-lessor and had the opportunity to try to resolve the problem when he moved out. The lawyer would be better able to explain your rights and their responsibilities here, but your options are as I see it to: a. retain the attorney. (The collection agency probably doesn’t want to get in the middle of a legal battle over what’s a relatively small amount. They may drop it if they are challenged legally. Can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly a possibility.) b. Contact the apartment complex, note the problems you’ve had in a very clear factual way and ask them to pull it back from collections so you can deal with them directly. (If they do that then you should be able to get the collection account removed.) c. File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

  • Neil

    I had one car payment late in 2012.It was late by less than 30 days. The operator had called me to inform about my car payment to be late and we agreed I would pay along with next payment. I aslo confirmed they would not report to any credit bereau. But unfortunately they did and when I saw the report I called them and they agreed to remove from my report as I had already made my payment. I checked my report again no change. Called again and disputed again with no luck

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      How about filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

    • Heidi

      Just write a goodwill letter. If you have never been late before the bank would be much more receptive of that. I had the same situation and it worked.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Steve – It’s a valid question and one that others have asked. FICO says that paying a collection account should not “refresh” the date that impacts your score. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on here. How do you know that happened? Have you seen a difference in how those accounts are reported?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    As the article above says, in some situations, a written complaint is better, but filing online doesn’t mean you can’t follow up with a letter.

    It’s a good idea to keep copies of all correspondence (emails and letters), plus a log of any phone calls, noting dates and to whom you spoke. You should not send original documents, and be sure to send by certified mail, return receipt requested.

    Good luck with getting the dispute resolved.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I would suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Be specific about the name of the collection agency, the hospital and the credit reporting agencies reporting it. I would also suggest you find the name of the CEO of the hospital and send a certified letter to them as well. Copy your Better Business Bureau and anyone else you can think of.

    Explain that you are willing to pay it but you are not willing to live with a collection account on your credit report for 7 years, and I don’t think you should have to either!

    Will you let me know if this works?

    • directore

      I will.

      BTW your reply was the first substantive advice (thanks!) from anybody and I have looked for advice everywhere since I discovered the problem 2 weeks ago. At this point I’m still waiting for the formal reply from the creditor to my written request to reinvestigate the case (phone request was rejected out of hand).

      I have one more humble request for comment Gerri. When reviewing my credit report I noticed that somebody re-reported recently my 10 year old address (address that both the creditor and the collector told they used when trying to contact me). All previous address reports (seven last years) are correct they reflect my present address and the one provided to the agent in the ER. Again, ER visit 3/13, sent to collections 08/13, 10 year old address reported again out of the blue 12/13. I discover the problem 01/14 How is that possible or legal to provide false address to the agencies?

  • SCH

    Here is my issue, I disputed items on my credit report that were near the 7 year mark, and that were going to fall off. Now they are telling me that this reopens them, and that I have to wait an additional 7 years for them to fall off? Is this accurate? Is there nothing that I can do about this?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Who is telling you this? Disputing an item should not reopen it. You may find useful information in this post: How Long Does Negative Information Stay on My Credit Report?

      • SCH

        Oh wow,really? That is actually the note that was on my actual report with Experian. I’m going to pull my report again today. Do I dispute it again? What do I say? Thank you!

  • milbla

    How can you make the credit reporting agency live up to state
    requirements? i.e. deleting claimed debt after 7 years?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      The debt should automatically fall off the report after seven years (with bankruptcy, it’s 10 years). If that doesn’t happen, you should ask that it be deleted, using the dispute process. These Credit.com resources may be helpful: How to Fix a Credit Report Mistake Fast and 8 Rules of an Effective Credit Dispute Letter.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      New York state law doesn’t require that all negative information be removed after 5 years. It only applies specifically to satisfied judgments (5 years from the date file) and paid collections (5 years from date of last activity/date paid). In the case of collection accounts, since federal law only allows them to be reported for 7.5 years from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor, you don’t get a lot of extra time except in situations where you pay them off immediately. Hope that helps!

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  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Hi Aline – I am having a hard time following your story, but if I understand it correctly there is an old utility bill for $1700 that is appearing on your credit reports. First question: when you say old, how old? When did you last pay on this bill?

    Secondly, what is the name of the utility company and what kind of utility service is it? There can be a big difference between how water, electric are regulated.

    And finally, what state did all this occur in?

    I need this information before I can answer your question completely.

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  • logik

    I disputed through Experian and won my dispute. How do I get them to provide me with free reports from all three bureau’s? I also read that I am entitled to them sending out new reports to everyone who has ran my credit in the last six months. How do I get them to do that?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hi JLynn — We just checked the link and it appears to be working correctly. To try again, I’m reposting the full URL for you: https://www.experian.com/consumer/cac/InvalidateSession.do?code=CDIRESELLER&rid=R002

    Hope this helps!

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hi Stephanie – If the house was sold in a short sale and the lender refuses to correct the error, they’re violating the laws under the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). We’d encourage you to try disputing the error again and when you do, consider using this guide to help you with the dispute letter so that there’s no misunderstandings on what you’re disputing: 8 Rules of an Effective Credit Report Dispute Letter

    After you’ve filed the dispute, another option is to file a complaint directly with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/
    They’ll help mediate the dispute to make sure it’s addressed properly.

    If you still aren’t getting anywhere, you may wish to consult with a consumer law attorney that’s familiar with FDCPA cases. To locate a consumer law attorney in your area, http://www.NACA.net is a good place to start.

    One last word regarding short-sales vs. Foreclosures. From a credit standpoint, there is no difference between a short-sale and a foreclosure — both are just as damaging. However, from a lender’s perspective, mortgage lenders are much more likely to favor a short sale over a foreclosure as it shows you didn’t completely walk away from the agreement and did the best you could to try and meet the terms of the original agreement. (You can read more about this topic here: Foreclosure vs. Short Sale: What’s Worse for Your Credit?)

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  • hong ying

    CITI puts me on paperless this April 2013 without my knowledge. Since I did not receive any statement in mail and sometimes my balance on CITI card was zero, I was not alarmed for not receiving statements and thought I had no balance with CITI. By accident on July 17 2013, I clicked on one email from CITI and I was surprised to know there is an overdue $600. I paid it off right away. However it was already 63 days late. My credit score got hit and I am shopping for a mortgage.

    I filed dispute with 3 credit report agents online. I called CITI and was told there is no error from bank since it is a fact that I did not pay the balance. I was told it has nothing to do with paper statement. However, I was receiving the paper statement for more than 7 years, and I already had a habit of relying on paper statement to pay off the bill.

    How should I proceeds? Any recommendation is appreciated! Thank you,

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You’re going to have to try to find someone higher up there to help you. They can make a “goodwill” adjustment and it doesn’t sound like you are out of line to ask.

      You can try reaching out to their customer service team on Twitter or Facebook if you have accounts there. If that doesn’t work, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That might be enough to get someone there who can help you to respond favorably.

      If that doesn’t work, come back and we’ll talk about other strategies.

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  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hi Brooke –

    The three credit reporting agencies (CRAs) are three independent companies, which means they do not share their data. This also means you’ll need to file a dispute directly with the CRA where the error is being reported. You can include copies of the other two reports, certainly, but they won’t use them as confirmation/validation to correct the error. Instead, they’ll open an investigation and contact the data furnisher directly to get validation. Most likely, it’s an error on the lender’s end and they’ll update it accordingly.

    Here are two resources that will help walk you through the dispute process:

    A Step-by-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Errors
    How to Write an Effective Credit Report Dispute Letter

  • Jayne

    Hi Gerri,

    Phew, glad you took the time to detail all of this. Never thought I would need to go through the whole list, but might have to. Thanks Chase Mortgage for misreporting 99.9% details of my short sale! I’d like to thank Equifax for being equally neglectful. 🙂 lol Ugh. Sigh.

    Thanks again Gerri. Very helpful list. J

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You’re welcome Jayne. What happened with your short sale? Have you been able to get it resolved?

  • Lexis

    I wanted to get an opinion on what to do about an issue I just was made aware of. I received a phone call this morning from a collections agency about my Chase credit card balance. I was unaware of any due balance since I rarely use this credit card and used it only for establishing credit when I was in college. I have a credit score of 796 with only my student loans and car as my debt. The billing statements were being sent to an old address according to both Chase and the collections agency. The collections agency connected me with a Chase manager to figure out what the charges were and on what date. Apparently, I had a $101.92 balance on a card from a Sept. 7, 2012 rental car charge that had gone to collections as of April 30,2013 at $310.40 due to late fees and interest. Having never made a late payment, minimum payment, or anything of the sort I was completely shocked that this had occurred. If I was aware of ANY charges they would have been paid in full at or before the due date as I ALWAYS DO. Well, the Chase manager was kind enough to take off the interest and late fees making my balance due $101.92 which I paid today. I then called the collections representative I had been dealing with to let him know that he should be seeing the letter from Chase regarding my account within a few days. I don’t want any blip on my credit report. How can I go about correcting this issue besides paying my balance due? The woman at Chase said that it’s out of her hands once it goes to collections. Is there anything I can do like write a letter to Experian, Transunion, and Equifax asking to delete the charged off credit card? I realize that this isn’t a large charge amount, but I’m very concerned about my credit being negatively affected. Any suggestions would be great!

    Thank you for your time.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Lexis – First, check your credit reports to see if this was reported. It may not have been in which case you don’t have to worry. If it has been, then come back here and we’ll try to figure out a strategy.

  • Tim

    I know that the negative item will stay on a credit report for 7 years.

    Here is my question.

    If a payment was 90 days late how much will it hurt my credit score?
    If it was two years old how much will it hurt my credit score?
    If it was four years old how much will it hurt my credit score?

    the reason for this question is because of the dates that are almost always wrong in a credit report,


    • Gerri Detweiler

      There is no set number of points that a specific late payment will hurt your credit scores. It depends on everything else in your credit report.

      Generally, the older negative information is, the less it impacts your credit scores provided you have current, positive credit references reporting.

      However, if the dates on your credit report are wrong you have the right by law to dispute them.

  • Deondrick Woodard


    I need a copy of sample 2nd Dispute letter with a one, two punch showing me what information I need to include, regarding a denial from Experian. (They stated that the information was verified, but did not send me proof or how they even came up with their facts). Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.



    • Credit.com

      Hi Deon – To explain the process, when you file a dispute with a credit bureau they have 30 days to investigate and resolve your dispute. When they open an investigation their first step is to contact the data furnisher responsible for reporting the information that you’re disputing. This could be a lender, creditor, collector, or any entity that is able to report credit data to the bureaus. If the data furnisher confirms that the information being reported is accurate the bureau will mark the dispute as verified and close the investigation—–and the information will remain and continue to be reported. The bureaus are not required to provide any documentation or explanation of how they came up with their facts. This is because their facts are based on what the lender reporting the information tells them. If it’s your word over a lender’s, the credit reporting agency is going to go with the lender unless you have proof to back up your dispute.

      Can you provide a little more detail about what you’re disputing?

      When filing a dispute it’s always a good idea to provide any proof or documentation that would help the bureau with the investigation. If the information is inaccurate and the data furnisher refuses to correct it, they’re breaking the law under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you have proof that the information is inaccurate and the creditor/data furnisher refuses to correct the error, your next line of defense would be to speak to a consumer law attorney that’s familiar with handling FCRA lawsuits – http://www.naca.net is a good place to start.

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    I have two items on my credit report that say “no status”. It is the Experian Report. I have constantly disputed the item. I called the two places and they claimed the bills are not supposed to be listed as such. They said they would have Experian change it. I also contacted Experian and proved the last time I paid on the items. This has been ongoing the past three years. By now at least one of the bills should be off my report but the “no status” is preventing it. Somehow it is being investigated under the fair billing act and I’ve never had a bill being investigated that long. I did not even put it up for investigation. So what do I need to do?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am sorry but I am a little confused by your question. Can you explain exactly what the account in question is, and all the information that is reported for that account? Is this a collection account? A credit card? What is the negative information that you hope to have removed? “No status” shouldn’t affect how long an account is reported.

  • Kyle

    What can be done for victims of natural disasters? I was living in southern Louisiana in 2008 and had to evacuate for Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which both occured back to back. During that time I had a bill from Progressive Insurance that I either never got or was lost in the chaos and it went to collections (NCO Financial). I noticed this on my credit report in 2010 (I was deployed to Iraq throughout 2009) and paid the bill immediately. Is there anything that I can do to try to get this off of my report now? I tried to contact NCO about the issue and they are very rude and offer no assistance.

    • Credit.com

      Because the incident occurred more than two years ago, the likelihood of the creditor working with you to change the late payment is next to nil. The key is to act quickly as this article explains:

      “…it is in your best interest to contact your creditors as soon as possible to inform them of your situation. Don’t assume they know that you don’t have power or have not received mail for several days due to the storm and that is the reason for your late payment.

      Most banks and credit unions will have special processes and procedures in place to work with you through this difficult period which will help you maintain your good credit status. However, communicating with them is the first step toward getting the help you need, and protecting your credit in the midst of disaster.”

      For more help with natural disaster preparedness and credit related issues, these resources may help:

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Kyle –

      That is truly a shame. Have you tried contacting Progressive? If the placed the account for collection, they have the ability to pull it back from collections. If that doesn’t work, I’d suggest you file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and see if that resolves it.

  • Josh Johnson

    I live in Texas, and all my debt is in Texas. I have found that our statute of limitations is four years. Many Items on my credit report are from 2009 and 2010. So we are coming close to the four year mark. My question, Is it possible for me to dispute these items after they roll over the limit, and they will fall off? I am wanting to start cleaning up my score. It has slowly risen, I have noticed over the years, but I am nowhere near buying a house or anything. Is my idea possible, od how would I go about getting these things off of my report so I can start to build my score back up. Thanks for your response.

  • http://Credit.com Gayle

    I would like to know how to get Credit.com to fix inaccuracies with the information they are reporting for me. They are reporting more loans and higher amounts then I actually have. I have already viewed my reports and the multiple accounts are not on there, so I don’t see how Credit.com can come up with the information they are reporting.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Hi Gayle – Apologies for missing this comment when you initially posted. To clarify, it sounds like you may be confusing Credit.com with the three major credit reporting agencies. To explain, unfortunately, Credit.com doesn’t have access to your credit report data, nor do we actually “report” to the credit reporting agencies — we’re not lenders, you see, but rather an online educational resource. We understand your frustration, however, and while we can’t actually fix your errors, we can definitely point you in the right direction and explain the process so that you can get those inaccuracies corrected.

      To explain the process, your lenders and creditors report your account information directly to the credit reporting agencies and that’s how information ends up in your credit report. As to why some accounts are missing, just to clarify, some lenders will report to one or two of the credit reporting agencies, while others may report to all three — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — and some lenders may not report at all. The act of credit reporting in and of itself is actually voluntary. This means lenders are under no legal obligation to report, even though most lenders do. This article will give you a more in-depth look at this issue: Can You Force a Bank to Report to Credit Reporting Agencies?

      As far as the inaccurate accounts and balances, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives everyone the legal right to dispute inaccurate information in your credit reports. Keep in mind, though, the three credit reporting agencies are three independent companies, which means they do not share their data. This is important to note because this also means that if you have errors on your credit report, you’ll need to file a dispute directly with the credit reporting agency where the errors are being reported. If you’re seeing the errors based on the Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card, this data is actually from Experian so you’d need to file a dispute directly with Experian to have the information corrected.

      To help you through the dispute process, Credit.com offers two excellent resources that outline everything you need to know in order to dispute the errors and have them corrected:

      A Step-by-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Errors
      How to Write an Effective Credit Report Dispute Letter

      Good luck with the dispute process and please do keep us posted on how things turn out.

  • http://credit.com James Douglas

    Last year my ex and I went back to court over our normal 3 year review for child support, I knew my child support would go up as I am making more money now than I was three years ago, after the precedings my child support went up as expected , I wasn’t worried at all about it because the child support always comes directly out of my paycheck each week, ( been employeed at the same job for years). This year i went to the bank to get a loan and they said my credit wasn’t good enough , shockingly I asked what was on it, they said late child support payments dropped my score over 100 points, I think that this is crazy because the attorney general tells my employer how much to take out each week. Even though money had still been coming out each week ,the attorney general failed to tell my employer the new, correct amount for 3 months after the procedings, so they reported it to the credit bureu as deliquent payments . Can I dispute this as wrong, because I paid each week and have never been behind on my child support. Any and all info is greatly needed and appreciated. Thanks a concerned dad

    • Gerri Detweiler

      James – What a mess! You can try disputing it but it’s going to be extremely difficult. The credit reporting agency is going to rely on what the child support enforcement agency is reporting, and if they confirm it as delinquent then it continues to be reported.

      Your best bet is to try to work with the child support enforcement agency (your attorney general?) to get it corrected. If they aren’t willing to do so, then I would suggest you contact your local state elected official (your state Senator and/or Rep) and ask them for help. Most have ombudsmen staff who help constituents solve issues with state governmental agencies.



    • Gerri Detweiler

      Isabel –

      I assume that you already tried disputing this through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? If not, then please do so. If you already did that, then you are going to have to continue to fight it. I’d suggest contacting a local consumer law attorney with experience in credit damage cases. (NACA.net). If you can’t afford an attorney, your local legal aid office may be able to help.

  • DonnaMarie

    How long is a bankruptcy allowed to show on your credit report? I completed mine in New York FOURTEEN YEARS AGO & checked my Experian for the first time in years when denied a $300.00 store credit card (to receive a 10% discount on my order!) – otherwise, I never would’ve known. I rec’d the proper letter in the mail explaining why I wasn’t getting the card, then checked my report – yup, there it was! When I filed, my attorney asked everyone in the (necessary “pre-court” class) if they were SURE this was the only option as this would stay with you for XX # of years. I THOUGHT it was seven, I KNOW it’s not FOURTEEN! Could you post the answer so that everyone/anyone considering this difficult option understands the YEARS of bad ramifications. I had to do it for medical expenses:

    $177,000.00 in medical debt – $22k/yr income, 29 yrs old/single/disabled – yup, only option!

    Thank you Miss Gerri, I look forward to your response.
    ps – things are ok now financially – totally disabled/living w Mom/but scraping by!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      A bankruptcy can only be reported ten years from the date you filed. I see no reason why it should be on your reports 14 years later. What does it list for the date of filing??

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  • monette crump

    I just descovered a collection aggency has listed a bad debt on my credit report. The same thing happened last year with a different CA, same debt. I called Direct Energy and faxed a copy of my check and they agreed with me, the account had been paid in full…the reporting agency removed it from my credit report and I though that was the end of it…Wrong…today I find a new CA has listed the same debt on my CR. Can they continue to place inacurate information on my CR and suffer no consequences. and how did this CA get this bogus debt unless it was sold to them by Direct Energy. Any advise is appreciated… : )

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Monette –

      You raise some good questions. The utility company may have sold the debt to another collection agency when it went “unpaid.” It’s also possible that the first collection agency sold it to the second one, but that shouldn’t happen for a disputed debt.

      I’d suggest you complain to your state public utilities commission and also to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I suggest you name both the original creditor and the collection agencies in your complaint.

      Let me know what happens.

  • http://credit.com(blog) RoseyCheeks

    I think I understand Monette’s inquiry as “Can credit reports double up on the SAME delinquent debt?

    Based on the information, will her credit score reflect negatively from both places until the purge date?

    Purge date = 7yrs+180days from the date first fell behind from original lender.
    For illustration purposes, purge date is “July 16, 2014” (1yr, 4months from now – a long time)

    Original Lender: “debt written off” (lowering credit score)
    Collection Agency: “Past Due” (lowering credit score even further)
    for the SAME debt UNTIL July 16, 2014??!!

    That just seems crazy!

    Also, what if the collection agency turns around and sells debt to another collection agency – would the debt be reported negatively through THREE companies for the same debt?


    Also, regarding “beginning date when first fell behind with original lender”; how does that work?

    If I stopped paying for 6 months, then started paying again for 2 months and then stopped all together, what would be the beginning date (clock starts)?
    The first month of the 6th month nonpayment
    The first month when I stopped paying all together?


    How many months of nonpayment = write off?


    I’ve also read/heard that if a collection agency contacts you about a debt they bought from your original lender and you acknowledge it then the clock starts again; is this true?


    If I am trying to clear up my credit and I have old unpaid balances – should I pay them off? Why? Why not?

    Thank you so much for your help!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Yes, both the original debt and the collection account will have the same purge date. If the account is sold to another collector the same purge date will apply but she should be able to dispute the first collection account as a duplicate.

      Regarding the original delinquency date it’s for the delinquency that led immediately up to the account being placed for collection or charged off. So in your example, it would be the first month the accountholder stopped paying all together.

      Most creditors charge off (write off) accounts at 180 days of nonpayment due to banking regulations but it can vary from lender to lender.

      It’s possible that acknowledging the debt could restart the statute of limitations but usually a payment is required for that to happen. And that affects how long they can successfully sue to collect the debt, but doesn’t change the reporting period.

      As for your old debts, paying collection accounts won’t currently help your credit scores. You may want to pay them for other reasons (you owe the debt and want to make good on it, or you want to avoid being sued) but improving your credit is not one of those reasons.

  • Nicole

    I have a different dispute address for Experian. I sent my letter and documentation to PO Box 9701 Allen, TX 75013. Does this mean Experian won’t accept my dispute or it could take longer than 30 days? Thanks!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I wouldn’t worry about it – they have several different addresses.

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  • joypeter

    What a amazing post you have posted,really very impressive content.Thank you

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  • monette crump

    question..a bank sold my bad debt to a collection agency. The debt was written off in 2006 by the lender but has recently been sold to a ca. The ca is listing the date opened as 11/01/2012 (the date the ca purchased the debt) and showing the full amount as passed due. I have ask the cra to investigate and they say it is correct! Can they show the debt as past due when it has been written off? And is the “past due” lowering my credit score even more?I know l owe the debt and the wright off lowers my score, but does the “past due” lower it even more?
    Thank you for any help you can give this poor retiree in texas

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Monette – Lenders are often required under banking regulations to charge off (or “write off”) bad debts after a certain period of time. This helps ensure the lender is accurately represents its financial health. However, this doesn’t mean they can’t try to collect the debt or sell it to a collector who may try to collect it.

      Collection accounts may be reported for 7 years and 180 days from the date you first fell behind with the original creditor. In practical terms, that means this collection account probably may no longer be reported 7 years from when it was charged off by the original lender. Based on what you are saying, that sounds like about a year from now. After that time it can’t be reported, even if it remains unpaid. The only instance where it may affect your credit longer than that is if they sue you and get a judgment, which would have its own reporting period.

      I don’t know what you mean by this comment: “Can they show the debt as past due when it has been written off? And is the “past due” lowering my credit score even more?” If this is the collection agency you are talking about, then it’s negative no matter what. But collection accounts are usually reported as collection accounts so I am not sure where the past due remark is involved here.

      Perhaps you can clarify. The more specific the better.

      PS: My understanding is that the statute of limitations for most consumer debts in Texas is four years. So if you haven’t made any payments or payment agreements in that time, then there’s probably not a lot they can do to collect. That’s a separate issue and you should read our articles on debt collection to understand your rights when dealing with these debt collectors.


        What I mean is the ca is listing under Status–Collection Account–$5100.00 past due as of 02-13-2013 (the date I filed a despute with the cra) so I guess my credit score reflects a collection and past due account, right? Looking at my Credit Card in credit.com I have a “F” under late payments….there are no late payments on my report except for the collection accounts that list the full amount owed as past due. I have disputed the Date Opened because it showes the date the CA bought the account, not the date of the original debt, the CRA wrights back and says “we contacted the CA and they said it was correct”….are you kidding me, what else would they say! I truly believe the CRA is a joke and they could care less what the truth is…their answer… “Post a dispute” and a lot of good that does….

        • Gerri Detweiler

          It sounds like someone, somewhere keeps this account in collections even though it shouldn’t be. I’d suggest you go to the next step and talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in credit damage cases. (You can search for one at NACA.net.) Most of these attorneys will work with you on contingency or with no cost to you if you have a good case, as the other party will have to pay legal fees if they are breaking the law. Let us know what happens!

  • Lorena

    I have a hard inquiry from T-mobile that I believe should be a soft one, where it wouldn’t go against my credit as a soft one. I was accepted for employment, which normally is a soft inquiry. However they seemed to do a hard one, and it’s listed as “fuel and utlities”. I know I did not look into a cellphone with them, and this is really a disheartening fact on my credit report as I only worked there two days! Should I dispute this, and if so do I call T-mobile?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Lorena – a company that has permissible purpose to obtain credit reports for one reason but then obtains them for another reason may be breaking the law. They may also be in violation of their contractual agreement with the credit reporting agencies.

      If it were me, I would dispute this inquiry, in writing, with the credit reporting agency (or agencies) that has it listed on the report. This is essential to protect your rights.

      If you do dispute it, let us know what they say.

  • Kyla


    I have a collection account on two of my reports that are not mine. I am going to send letters disputing this account all together. However, I have noticed that the same account has been reported on two of my credit reports, with two different account numbers. The account numbers are exact except there are two numbers within the account number that are transposed. Is this a “simpler” bases for or reason I can point out to the bureaus, that will remove this wrongful account from my credit report or do I still need to just go through disputing the entire account? Or is this something I should point out in the dispute letter as well?

    • http://www.credit.com Gerri

      Kyla – If the same account is showing up twice on the same credit report with just a number transposed, then you are likely correct that this is a clerical error. You can simply dispute the accounts as duplicates and see what happens, unless you have another reason for disputing them.

  • Mrs.A

    You have my email, and I am blessed to say…I will be focus on assisting others who may or maynot have children that have concerns in which direction to take, but I believe I can not be any assistance to anyone, unless I am their TRUE testimonial example in “All things are Possible”, Due to a male was the 90.9% percental cause within the amount of years I was tied up to him within marriage and trying to take care of his children within the means that was limited and locked by limitations of him not being responsible or financially concerned in how it will affect his children financial growth. I really needs to move forward with more secured blessed advice that through monitoring and financial management within being financial aware with discipline and financial sense there is a TRUE way in being more secured and protected towards building a Established- Financial Portfolio for my life currently, while I am assiting others who may have fallen as well……..your welcome to email me directly as well…..I am no longer a Military Wife or apart of any Assistance for or with my children…I do know that I may not be the only one, but its many who have got lost and twisted into blindness that should know that their is Help and Assistance and Positive Possiblities that Proven that “All THINGS Are Possible”…Also, Is there a Such thing as Credit Monitoring or Lock with a Fee? I never asked anyone to Monitor My Credit or Have never seen such created agencies give people a hard time & charge other people for their own information that their compnay or agency have..In which, most of these same companies Sell, Trades, or Bargins “OUR” TRACKED Data…but yet many say for employed or verifiable reasons we need you to sign a consent form …..

  • Mrs.A

    I would like to know how to turn over any unclaimed debts back over to my ex-husband, who I was married to at the time and had to take care of the overall expenses and accumulated student loans to help me while trying to go to college & had to provide,support his children during that time? (Apologize for the the lengthy sentence structure, but it frustrating..) I discovered he falsified financial documents when the majistrate asked him at the time, as well,, he didnt inform his divorce attorney of any in the process financial gained amount, due to me not having the proof they granted him a divorce,leaving me the bills and ect. and Texas is a Community State and I believed, due to what I been through and him falling to maintain his support for his children and responsibilities for them needs until our Finalization and The Judge acknowledges all TRUTH …he needs to be sent back,due to falsiying any decree that should be Voided or he should be held liable including Contempt for falsifying financial gains at that time..Currently, he will be getting SSI & He is a Veteran as well, but they are always covering up for ex-soldiers like him( he a mishap of representation of the service, but they do have them affliated and protected as If failing to maintain any part of his responsiblities of taking care of his family,children,or needs for them can be ignored then and now he is in the Rears of 59k, the childsupport judge cut him half once before and he still didnt pay…between the military and some childsupport courts..hmm? This is how part of my credit became in shock or hindered, can You Plz
    help this one …

  • http://www.defore.net Ron DeFore

    #8 is always pay your bills on time!

    • Gerri Detweiler

      True – except it won’t necessarily prevent mistakes!

  • Patrick J DeFore

    What happened to step 8 ???

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Did I mention eight steps? I’m confused…!?

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