If you ordered a copy of your credit report and found negative or incorrect information, you have options and rights.
Explain Negative Information
You can include a 100-word explanation of any extraordinary circumstances that led to the negative information (loss of a job, illness).
After seven years, negative information in your report should automatically be deleted. The seven years begins 180 days from the date of the original delinquency. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy (includes some debt repayment terms) also remains on your credit report for seven years. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy should be deleted after 10 years of the filing date.
There are two primary reasons errors may appear on your credit report.
- You've been mistaken for another person with a similar name whose information ends up in your file.
- You've been a victim of identity theft (someone else has access to your personal information and obtained credit in your name).
Request Errors Be Fixed
State and federal laws give you with the right to have errors on your credit report fixed. You can start the process by filing a dispute with the credit bureaus in writing or online. While you can do it either way, mailing a letter (certified mail, return receipt requested) gives you proof that your dispute was received.
Once you've notified a credit bureau of your dispute, it has 30 days to conduct an investigation and 5 additional days to notify you. They must consider all the relevant evidence you provide and any errors must be fixed. If they can't verify the negative information, it must be deleted from your file. You're also entitled to get a free copy of your corrected report and can ask them to send a copy to anyone who has requested your file in the past six months (past two years if it was about employment).
If you disagree with the result of the investigation, you have the right to submit a 100-word explanation that they must include in your file, but the negative information still won't be removed.
You can also dispute inaccurate information found in your credit report directly with the company from which it came. It's always a good idea to at least tell them that you're disputing an error on your credit report involving information that came from them.
File a Complaint or Sue
If you're having a problem getting your credit report corrected, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
You also have the right to sue a credit bureau (or company that provided the data). If you win, you could be entitled to money for the damages you've suffered or a maximum of $1,000 (whichever is greater). You can also recover your court costs and attorney fees.