What to Do When the Credit Bureau Won't Fix an Error on Your Report

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When you find an error on your credit report, the Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to clear up that error by disputing it with the bureau that provided the report. You can dispute credit report errors via phone, online, or by mail. Disputing by mail gives you a paper trail that will come in handy if you later need to sue the credit bureau.

Once the bureau receives your dispute, it's required to investigate your dispute and remove the error from your credit report if it is determined that the information being disputed is indeed inaccurate.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't always end there. The dispute process sometimes fails to remove information from credit reports, even if the item in dispute is a factual error. However, if your initial dispute didn't get the error removed, there are further steps you can take.

Frequency of Credit Bureau Inaccuracies

According to a 2015 study by the Federal Trade Commission, 121 of 1,001 survey participants had an unresolved dispute with a credit bureau. Of those, 31% later accepted the disputed information as correct, but the other 69% continued to believe that inaccurate information remained on their credit report.

The FTC report came after a yearlong investigation by the Columbus Dispatch in 2012. Investigators with the newspaper analyzed 30,000 credit report-related complaints to the FTC and 24 cases from state attorneys general concerning alleged violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The investigation found that more than half of the complaints were from people who couldn’t get the credit bureaus to fix their errors. The errors remained on their credit reports despite proof being presented—and even when they seemed glaringly obvious. For example, some struggled to get their credit report to reflect that they hadn't died.

Next Steps: Dispute It Again With New Information

If you keep disputing the same error without providing any new information, the credit bureau may determine that your dispute is frivolous. That's bad for you, because credit bureaus have fewer requirements for handling "frivolous disputes." Your dispute won't be investigated with the speed of other disputes, and the credit bureau may even be able to skip an investigation altogether. However, if the credit bureau determines that your dispute is frivolous, it must notify you in writing within five business days. This notification will include reasons for its decision and what information is needed to restart the investigation.

If That Doesn't Work, Take Your Dispute to the Business That Provided the Information

If a credit bureau isn't fixing an error on your report, it could be because the error is on the part of your creditor or debt collector. If that's the case, you'll need to dispute the information with the creditor or debt collector so that they stop passing along this erroneous information to the credit bureau.

Send your objection and proof to the entity providing the disputed information to the credit bureaus. If that doesn't work, escalate your dispute within the company—get the CEO involved if you have to. If the creditor does confirm that the information is inaccurate, it's required to update the credit bureau with the correct information.

Points of Contact When Registering a Complaint

There are generally three resources you can use to complain about unresolved credit bureau disputes: your state's attorney general, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

These agencies can’t necessarily force the credit bureau or creditor to update your account, but they are powerful government entities, and if a credit bureau knows they're involved, it may be more motivated to fix your credit report. It's also a good idea to involve these authorities because, if they receive enough complaints, they may file a lawsuit against a credit bureau or creditor. If they see a systematic problem, they can also help propose and push for legislative changes that will make it easier for all consumers to get similar disputes resolved.

Even without involving these agencies, you have the right to sue a credit bureau that violates any of your rights under the FCRA, including instances when a credit bureau continues to report inaccurate information. In 2013, a jury awarded an Oregon woman $18.4 million in her lawsuit against Equifax for this exact reason—it had failed to correct her credit report after she had sent eight disputes over two years.

To keep the process as smooth as possible, keep all the evidence of your disputes with the credit bureau (and the creditors), any responses from those entities, and notes of any phone calls you make regarding the dispute. Contact an attorney if you believe you have a strong case against the credit bureau.

When to Let a Credit Report Error Slide

As much as you want your credit report to be correct—and it’s your right to have an accurate credit report—it takes time and effort to continue submitting disputes. Therefore, if your first dispute doesn't result in the change you hoped for, pause to consider the situation before submitting another one.

If the error isn’t affecting your credit score, doesn't affect applications for credit cards or loans, or is scheduled to fall off your credit report soon, it may not be worth it to continue to pursue the error. Continue to monitor your credit report for future errors, and be sure to dispute those if they're serious.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Consumerfinance.gov. "A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act," Page Two.

  2. Federal Trade Commission. "FTC Issues Follow-Up Study on Credit Report Accuracy."

  3. The Columbus Dispatch. "Dispatch Investigation | Credit Scars."

  4. National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions. "Managing Frivolous FCRA Disputes."

  5. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Supervisory Highlights Consumer Reporting Special Edition: Issue 14, Winter 2017," Page 20.

  6. New York State Office of the Attorney General. "A.G. Schneiderman Announces Groundbreaking Consumer Protection Settlement With the Three National Credit Reporting Agencies."

  7. ABC News. "Jury Awards $18.6M for Equifax Credit Report Mix-Up."

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