If you obtain your credit report and find a blemish on it that you don’t recognize as being your mistake or fault, do not assume that the information is correct. Credit reporting bureaus and the creditors who report credit information to these bureaus often make errors. You hope and expect that, if a credit bureau has negative and incorrect information in your credit report and you bring the mistake to their attention, they’ll graciously and expeditiously fix the error. If you believe that, you’re the world’s greatest optimist; perhaps you also think you won’t have to wait in line to renew your passport or dispute a parking ticket.
You’re going to have to fill out a form on a website, make some phone calls, or write a letter or two to fix the problems on your credit report. Here’s how to correct most errors that aren’t your fault: If the credit problem is someone else’s: A surprising number of personal credit report glitches are the result of someone else’s negative information getting on your credit report. If the bad information on your report is completely foreign looking to you, contact the credit bureau (by phone or online) and explain that you need more information because you don’t recognize the creditor.
If the creditor made a mistake: Creditors make mistakes, too. You need to write or call the creditor to get it to correct the erroneous information that it sent to the credit bureau. Phoning the creditor first usually works best. (The credit bureau should be able to tell you how to reach the creditor if you don’t know how.) If necessary, follow up with a letter or email to document and provide a record of your request.
Whether you speak with a credit bureau or an actual lender, make note of your conversations. If representatives say that they can fix the problem, get their names, email addresses, and phone extensions, and follow up with them if they don’t deliver as promised. If you’re ensnared in bureaucratic red tape, escalate the situation by speaking with a department manager.