Having inaccurate information on your credit report can significantly lower your credit score and make it much more difficult to get approved for loans, mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products. If you find something inaccurate on your Experian credit report, you have the right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to dispute it and have it corrected. Here’s what you need to know about disputing errors on your Experian credit report.

How To Get Your Experian Credit Report

Your first step is to obtain a free copy of your Experian credit report by requesting it directly from Experian. You can request your report online via Experian’s website or you can access it via annualcreditreport.com. As you review your credit report, look for any accounts, balances, late payments, or any other negative information that does not belong to you or is reported inaccurately. These issues could be lowering your credit score.

What Kind Of Inaccurate Information Should You Look For?

After getting your credit report, it’s important to know what information to look for in order to properly file a dispute with Experian. 

Here are some examples of inaccurate information that could appear on your Experian credit report: 

  • Accounts that don’t belong to you (accounts resulting from identity theft or fraud)
  • Incorrect account status (such as closed accounts listed as open)
  • Payments listed as late that you paid on time
  • Incorrect balances or credit limits
  • Accounts still listed that are too old to be included (over 7 years for negative info, over 10 years for bankruptcies).
  • Public records that are marked paid or discharged but still show as outstanding

If you find any inaccuracies like these, you may be questioning exactly how to dispute a credit report error with Experian and have them removed. Check out some tips below.

Starting The Dispute Process

Experian allows you to dispute errors online from your computer or mobile device. However, we highly recommend filing your disputes via certified mail. We recommend certified mail because sometimes filing online will require you to waive some of your rights, which filing via mail does not require. When you’re disputing errors, it’s important that you are able to maximize all of your rights according to the FCRA and other laws that protect your credit. Therefore, we suggest certified mail.

When you file a dispute, you will need to clearly identify what information is inaccurate and provide an explanation of why you are disputing it. You need to be as detailed as possible in your dispute because doing so can only help expedite Experian’s investigation and get the items removed. Be sure to also provide supporting documentation if you have it, like bank statements, proof of payments, court documents indicating closed accounts, etc.

This information will be included in what is called a dispute letter. It’s crucial that the dispute letter is written with specificity, mentioning those items we’ve listed above. If you do not know how to write a dispute letter, there are sample templates online via the Federal Trade Commission’s website or you can reach out to consumer law attorneys for assistance. Contacting a lawyer right away may be the most efficient option.  

What Happens After You Submit A Dispute?

Under the FCRA, Experian must investigate the disputed information typically within 30-45 days of receiving your dispute (usually 45 days if you provide additional supporting documents). Please keep in mind that every dispute is different and the amount of time may vary slightly. However, the FCRA is clear about the maximum amount of time that Experian has to investigate and respond. During their investigation period, they will usually contact the source of the information in question, such as a creditor or a collection agency, to verify its accuracy, amongst other things. During this time, you have a right to do your own research and also seek additional help should you need it.

Potential Outcomes From Experian’s Investigation

  1. If the source confirms the information is inaccurate, Experian will remove or update it on your report. This can help to boost your credit score.
  2. If the source insists the information is accurate, Experian will continue reporting it and they will notify you of the decision.
  3. If Experian is unable to verify the accuracy within the investigation period, they will usually remove the disputed item from your report rather than report uncertain information.

Experian’s actions regarding your dispute can vary. You’ll receive a notification from Experian after the investigation is complete letting you know the outcome and the next steps you can take if needed. 

What If Your Dispute Is Rejected?

If Experian rejects your dispute and continues reporting the information you disputed, you do have recourse. You can file a statement with Experian disputing the information and explaining your side, again. Unfortunately, this will cost you additional time and there is no guarantee that the outcome will be different the second time around. You can also file a lawsuit against Experian. Many people have to file a lawsuit to hold Experian accountable for failing to remove the erroneous information from their credit profiles. 

You do not have to wait until after filing a dispute with Experian to contact an attorney. Consumer Attorneys can help you at any stage in your process. If you have questions prior to disputing or need to know what steps to take, or if you’ve disputed errors and Experian refuses to remove them, consumer protection attorneys can help you. You must remember that it is your right under the FCRA to maintain an accurate credit history. In the event that Experian or any of the other credit bureaus causes your credit report to reflect inaccurate information, you have a right to dispute it and have it fixed. 

The key to disputing and fixing your report is to act immediately. Do not wait to get the help you need. The sooner you act, the sooner the errors can be rectified!