How to dispute inaccurate Credit Reports You want to repair your own credit but aren’t sure where to begin. Use the step-by-step credit report dispute procedures below to begin repairing your own credit.Step 1: Obtain Current Credit ReportsStep 2: Personal Review of Your Information Step 3: Rank Order Questionable Items Step 4: Initial Dispute to Correct Information Step 4a: Understanding the Credit Reporting Agency’s Legal Obligations Step 4b: Follow Up Dispute Letter Step 5: Notice of Intent to File a Formal Complaint with FTC Step 6: Repeat Dispute Until All Information is CorrectedInitial steps for disputing credit reports:UpStep 1: Obtain copies of current credit reportsCredit bureaus require you to have a recent report (less than 90 days old) before they will consider your dispute! The good news is that you only need to purchase the first report because after dispute an item and it’s corrected, the credit bureau is required by law to send you a brand new credit report free.There are two types of credit reports: single and 3-in-1 reports. Single reports are best if you plan to repair your credit files. If you plan to hire a credit repair organization, then a 3-in-1 might work, but before purchasing one, ask them if they need individual reports.Now, the new FACTA allows you to order one free report every 12 months per credit bureau. If you have not ordered one in the last 12 months, go to the FTC’s Website on Credit and click on the link “www.annualcredit report.com” located on the right side of the page. The link takes you to the annual credit report.com website, where you can request your free report.If you’ve already ordered a free report through annual credit report.com, but it’s more than 90 days old, you still might qualify for a free report if you live in certain states and meet certain criteria. Use this free credit report link to find out more.UpStep 2: Personal Review of Your InformationThe first and most critical step is reviewing your personal information!Once you have a current credit report, review the following personal information for any inaccurate, incorrect, erroneous, misleading, or outdated information!Names and Aliases (full names, spelling, Jr., Sr., III, maiden, married, nicknames, etc.)Addresses (check zip codes)Social Security Number(s)Date(s) of BirthState ID Number(s) (drivers license, student IDs, government IDs, etc.)Spouse Information (maiden names, previous marriage names, nicknames, etc.)Employers (names, dates, locations, type of termination, etc.)Items that do not belong to you appear on your credit reports more often than you realize. And, once there, it tends to stick because it somehow matches up with other incorrect personally-identifying information elsewhere in the report.Always dispute personal information mistakes first, because the data helps verify all other items on your credit report! By disputing erroneous personal information first, other negative items will no longer match your personal information; thus, you strengthen your case to have the information removed. (see step 4)UpStep 3: Rank Order Questionable ItemsAfter you’ve disputed and had corrected any personal information, you can then begin the next step of carefully reviewing the rest of the items and note any inaccurate, incorrect, erroneous, misleading, or outdated information then, rank order (see Rank Order Below) each item according to its relevant importance.It does not matter whether the information is negative, neutral, or even positive; if it is in any way erroneous, have it removed! An accurate credit report is paramount to determining your creditworthiness! (see Credit Scores Explained)Rank questionable items according to their significance using the following ordered list. back to step 6Personal data (see step 2 )Bankruptcy (included items, excluded items, the chapter filed, the filing date and so forth)Consumer credit counseling (date entered counseled, progress, etc.)Foreclosure (attempts, completed actions, dates, amounts, etc.)Consumer credit counseling loans (debt consolidation loans, amounts, dates, other included debts, etc.)Default (dates, amounts, etc.)Repossession, (voluntary or involuntary, the amount owed, dates, etc.)Court judgments (date, amount, type, reason, etc.)Collections (be sure the date shows the delinquent date NOT the date of collection actions)Past due payments (number past due, amount, length of time, and if settled)Late payments (correct dates are critical here, they determine how long the info stays in your reports)Credit rejections (be sure it’s you, and why)Credit inquiries (be sure these pertain to you – watch for fraud)Be sure to perform this step on all three national credit reports because the same questionable information may be on one, two, or all three credit reports!UpStep 4: Initial Dispute to Correct InformationMail a dispute letter to each Credit Reporting Agency that has erroneous information discovered in Step 2.Free initial credit report dispute letter sampleMailing and Record-keeping InstructionsUpStep 4a: Understanding the Credit Reporting Agency’s Legal ObligationsThey must investigate your dispute!They must inform you of the results of the investigation!If they change any disputed information, they must provide an updated copy of your report – Free!Once the credit reporting agency receives your dispute letter, they are obligated to investigate it, and this obligation is not contingent upon being denied credit. However, just saying the information is wrong is not enough; you must present a solid case for your dispute!Usually, between 10 and 30 days, they’ll send a letter informing you that they are investigating your dispute. Then, within another 10 to 30 days, you should receive a letter informing you of the results of their investigation.CAUTION! Except for personal information which can be disputed all at once, dispute only one item at a time! Disputing more than one item may cause the credit bureau to reject your dispute as frivolous.UpStep 4b: Follow Up Dispute LetterIn some cases, Credit Reporting Agencies are slow to respond to your dispute. If this should occur, write another letter, strongly reminding the credit bureau of their obligations under the law.Free Follow-up dispute letterMailing and Record-keeping InstructionsUp Step 5: Notice of Intent to File a Formal Complaint with FTCIf credit reporting agencies continue to ignore you, follow up with a written notice that you intend to file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).Then, be prepared to contact the FTC and file your formal complaint if you do not receive a response within 15 days of sending your “notice of intent” letter. Also, consider retaining an attorney, as willful failure to comply with the law may subject the Credit Reporting Agency to civil liability.There are three ways you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Response Center:Phone: toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)Or regular mail:Mail to:Federal Trade CommissionCRC-240 Washington, D.C. 20580Or electronically:Using their Online Complaint FormNOTE: The FTC does not resolve individual consumer disputes, but rather, it gathers complaints, comments, and inquiries to spot patterns of law violations so they can involve law enforcement action. Your complaint also helps them recognize and tell people about larger trends affecting consumers.UpStep 6: Repeat Dispute Until All Information is CorrectedAs soon as the Credit Reporting Agency has corrected your personal information (steps 2- 4a) and provided you with an updated credit report, dispute the next most damaging item according to your rank-ordered listRemember, whether you dispute your report via official mail or electronically (email), dispute only one item at a time!Continue disputing items until every questionable item has been corrected or deleted from your credit report!When you’ve completed the process, you should have two very important things Corrected copies of your credit reports – supplied free by the Credit Reporting Agency; and A better credit score!Additional NotesNote 1: Except for erroneous personal data, dispute each questionable item individually! Attempting a mass correction (i.e., challenging all information) makes it much easier for the credit reporting agency to consider this as evidence that your claim is frivolous because you failed to provide any allegations concerning specific items in your file.Note 2: Unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, Credit Reporting Agencies are required to assume that all disputes are bona fide and must investigate the dispute according to The Fair Credit Reporting Act USC, Title 15, Chapter 41, Subchapter III, Section 1681i, “Procedure in case of disputed accuracy.”Note 3: Specific words to use when writing your dispute letters: erroneous, outdated, misleading, or unverifiable. Mere explanation of the reason you did not pay a debt might not constitute a dispute and does not require the credit-reporting agency to re-investigate or accept your written dispute statements.