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Correcting your credit report

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, businesses can use the information in your report to evaluate your applications for credit. You have the right to dispute any inaccurate information. Follow these steps when disputing items in your credit report.

  • Clearly explain what information should be corrected.
    Contact the credit-reporting agency and tell the person you speak to what information you believe is inaccurate or should be updated. Keep copies of any correspondence you send or notes on any phone conversations. Check out the Federal Trade Commission's sample dispute letter.
  • Know what to expect.
    Within 30 days, the credit-reporting agency will investigate the disputed information. If it is found to be inaccurate, the creditor involved must notify all nationwide credit-reporting agencies so your file can be corrected.
  • Get the results in writing.
    If your dispute results in a change to your credit report, the credit bureau will give you the written results and a free copy of your report.
  • If you can't get information removed, consider explaining.
    You have the legal right to attach a letter of explanation to your credit file. Send this explanation to the three major credit bureaus, as well as to any business that was involved. The business is obligated to include your letter in any future input to the credit bureaus.
  • Businesses that guarantee to remove negative information from your credit file cannot provide such a remedy. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these "credit-repair companies" charge anywhere from $50 to more than $1,000 and do little to nothing to improve your credit report. You can learn more about these scams at the FTC's website here.