How to Dispute Errors on a Credit Report (FAQ)
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
In this article, you'll learn:
- How long items stay on your Credit Report
- How to dispute errors on your Credit Report
- What to do if a credit reporting agency won't remove wrong information
Something is wrong on my credit report. What do I do?
If there is something wrong or inaccurate on your credit report, you should send a Credit Report Dispute Letter to the credit reporting agency. The three big credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.
What happens after I send the Credit Report Dispute Letter?
The credit reporting agency must list the debt as disputed on your credit report. The credit reporting agency must also investigate the debt to see if you owe it.
How long do credit report investigations take?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit reporting agencies are supposed to complete their investigation within 30 days. But, the investigation may take longer in some circumstances.
What if the credit reporting agencies don’t take the debt off my credit report, but it is still wrong?
If the credit reporting agency decides that the information is correct, it will stay on your credit report. The credit reporting agencies are required to send you your results in writing. And, the credit reporting agency must list the debt as disputed.
If you still believe the information is wrong, you can dispute the debt with the organization or person who reported the incorrect information. It is also a good idea to talk to a lawyer if a credit reporting agency does not remove a debt that you do not owe.
How long do things stay on your credit report?
In general, debts stay on your credit report for 7 years and a bankruptcy stays on your report for 10 years. The seven-year period usually begins the date the event took place.
Some items will stay on your report for longer, like criminal convictions.
How long can I dispute a debt on a credit report?
There is no time limit for when you can dispute a debt on your credit report. You can dispute any item on your credit report that you don’t think is true at any time.
You can find more information about disputing errors on your credit report from:
- The Federal Trade Commission’s article on disputing errors on a credit report
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's 2 step guide for disputing errors on a credit report.
- Download our Credit Report Dispute Letter
- The State Bar Lawyer Referral Service may provide you with contact information for attorneys who provide the type of assistance you are seeking, for a fee. You can contact the State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at (406) 449-6577 or montanabar.org.
- Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) provides free civil, non-criminal legal help to eligible clients. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help in Montana.
- If you qualify for help from MLSA, you may be able to get free legal advice from a volunteer attorney by email using Ask Karla.