How To Write an Effective Credit Dispute Letter
7 MIN READ
Published November 13, 2023 | Updated November 13, 2023
Negative information, such as collections and late payments, can lower your credit score and make it difficult for you to get low-interest rates on new credit. While you can’t remove such negative information if it’s accurate, if your credit report has any inaccurate information, you can send a credit dispute letter.
When you send a credit dispute letter to a credit reporting agency, it will formally investigate the error. If the information is verified to be incorrect, the credit reporting agency will remove or correct the information from your credit file.
If you need a free credit dispute letter template, use our sample letter below to improve your credit.
What Is a Credit Dispute Letter?
Credit dispute letters are written documents that inform a credit bureau that there’s inaccurate information on your report. The letter provides information about the error and documentation to support your case and formally requests corrective action.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) ensures that consumers can get a free credit report, dispute errors, outdated information, and unsubstantiated claims. When you send a dispute letter for collections, federal law requires credit bureaus to investigate the claim within 30 days.
What Credit Report Errors Can You Dispute?
You can only dispute information that’s inaccurate on your credit report. Negative items such as collections, late payments, and bankruptcies can’t be disputed if they’re accurate. In some cases, however, you may be able to use a pay-to-delete letter to negotiate with a lender to remove those items if you settle an account.
Here are a few types of errors you can dispute:
- Incorrect personal information
- Financial accounts that aren’t yours
- Late payment entries if you weren’t late
- Inaccurate balances on debt accounts
How To Write a Credit Dispute Letter
Disputing negative information is more than just finding a good collections dispute letter template. Here’s a detailed guide to writing collections dispute letters that work.
1. Check Credit Reports Regularly for Errors
Get a free copy of your credit report online from all three credit reporting agencies- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion on a regular basis. Look for errors such as wrong address, misspelled name, debt balance errors, and account status errors.
2. Write a Credit Dispute Letter and Include Evidence
You’ll find many credit repair letter templates online as well as a free template below. Select a sample letter that matches the purpose of your letter and personalize it to explain the error on your credit report and why it should be removed. Make sure the letter has your personal identification information, such as your name, address, and Social Security number.
Be clear and concise, highlight the errors on a copy of your credit report, and clearly ask the credit bureau to correct the error. Fill out the official dispute form of the credit bureau in question and submit it along with the letter and supporting evidence.
3. Send the Letter by Mail
While each credit bureau has a phone number and online dispute forms, it’s best to send your credit dispute letter by certified mail. It’s easy to lose track of phone calls and online forms, but with certified mail, you’ll have a return receipt.
4. Wait for the Credit Bureau To Investigate
Once you send your letter, the credit bureau must investigate it within 30 days. If you submit additional information or documents after the investigation has started, the bureau can extend it for 15 additional days. After the investigation is complete, the agency will notify you of the results.
What To Include
Every good dispute letter template will provide you with instructions on how to fill out the letter and what kind of information to include. To make your letter as clear as possible and increase your chances of favorable results, include the following information:
- Full name
- Current address
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number
- Social Security number
- Account number for the debt in question
- Nature of disputed information
- Date of the information
- Explanation of why you’re disputing
- Enclosures, such as copies of credit reports, bank statements, and evidence
What To Avoid
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when disputing a debt and writing a dispute collection letter:
- Not saving evidence: You won’t be able to take your case far if you don’t save evidence such as certified mail receipts, records of calls, copies of letters, and financial paperwork.
- Not providing enough details: When writing a credit dispute letter, be sure to give a detailed explanation of the information that’s incorrect.
- Disputing too many items: Only dispute items that are inaccurate and don’t dispute too much at once, hoping that the credit bureau will remove a few of them.
- Not sending certified mail: All letters that you send to credit bureaus, collection agencies, and lenders should be sent by certified mail with a return receipt. This will provide you with proof that the agency received the letter.
Free Credit Dispute Letter Template
Use the credit dispute letter template below to dispute incorrect errors such as misspelled names, wrong addresses, inaccurate late payments, collections, and debt balances.
[Date of birth]
[Social Security number]
[Credit bureau name and address]
Dear [credit bureau],
I’m writing to inform you of inaccuracies I found on my credit report that need to be investigated and corrected. Please find below a list of errors, along with an explanation and a list of the enclosed documents.
Disputed Item 1
[Date of error]
Disputed Item 2
[Date of error]
Thank you for your help in resolving this matter.
Where To Send Your Credit Dispute Letter
Once you have written a credit report dispute letter using the credit dispute template above, send it by certified mail to the credit reporting company and keep copies for your records. Here are the addresses for the three major credit bureaus:
PO Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
What To Expect After Sending Your Letter
The dispute process starts as soon as the credit bureau receives the letter. Once you send the credit dispute letter, the credit bureau will communicate with the creditor from which it received the disputed information.
If they find that the information reported is incomplete or incorrect, they must notify all credit bureaus to correct the records. The credit bureau is also required to send correction notices to anyone who received a copy for employment purposes in the last two years and for any other purpose in the last six months.
How Long Does It Take To Resolve the Dispute?
Credit bureaus have to investigate disputes within 30 days of receiving your letter. They may sometimes take an additional 15 days to investigate, depending on the complexity of the case. They must also notify you within five business days about their findings.
Once the investigation is completed, you’ll receive a notification of the results by mail. Add a few days to account for the mail to reach you.
What To Do Next After Submitting a Credit Dispute Letter
If you’ve disputed an item on your credit report and it isn’t removed, you still have a few options. If the information is found correct, you can’t remove it. However, negative information will only remain on your credit file for a fixed period of time, so it will fall off eventually and won’t impact your credit score.
You can also contact the credit bureau to add a statement to your report, which may offer potential lenders helpful information about the information on your credit history, such as if a late payment was because of medical reasons.