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So you finally pulled a copy of your credit report, and right off the bat you noticed something’s not right. You don’t recognize one of the creditor’s names, and they say you have significant student loan debt.

What should you do?

First of all, don’t panic. There’s a chance it’s all a mistake, so you’ll need to approach this strategically. Here’s how.

Contact the Creditor 

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says on its site, the first thing to do is to contact the creditor to identify the account. (Yes, it’s a chore, but it may be the only way you’ll get to the bottom of this.)

Some lenders sell student loans or transfer them to a servicer, “which can result in an unfamiliar name showing up on your credit report,” explains the CFPB. If you find out this happened to you, you’ll also need to contact the new lender.

Typically, you would have received a letter from the lender that sold your loan explaining why it happened, who the new owner is and where to send payments or call with questions. The letter also would have included a statement listing the loans they were managing for you, when they were taken out, the interest rate and how much you owe in total.

Dispute the Error 

If you’ve spoken with the lenders and still believe the information is incorrect, you’ll need to dispute the error with the credit bureau that generated the report in question. First, you’ll need to put your dispute in writing, clearly explaining what you found on your credit report and why it’s not accurate. Include copies of any supporting documents, and send the letter by certified mail with a return receipt requested so you can keep track of when the letter’s received. You can also file a dispute online. (Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit reporting agencies have 30 days to resolve your dispute.)

When the investigation is complete, the credit bureau(s) will send the results in writing with a free copy of your credit report if a change has been made.

To work the problem from both angles, you can also send a similar letter to the creditor supplying the inaccurate information to the credit reporting agency.

If you’re having trouble resolving errors on your credit report, you may want to seek outside help, like a consumer attorney or a reputable credit repair firm. While you’re trying to resolve the errors, you can request a statement of dispute to be included in your credit file and also file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Another option: Filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the office of the attorney general in your state. (You can read more about the credit laws that are on your side here.) Throughout the process, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit so you’ll know if and when anything changes. You can get two free credit scores every 30 days on Credit.com.

[OfferIf you need help fixing errors on your credit report, Lexington Law could help you meet your goals. Learn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]

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