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8 Rules of an Effective Credit Report Dispute Letter

When sending letters follow this format:

1. Include identification information. Your name, current address and last four digits of your Social Security number should be at the top of your letter. Also include the credit report reference number, if one is available.

2. Identify the item that’s wrong. Clearly describe the account with the information that’s wrong; for example, “Visa credit card account number ending in 5678 opened 6/18/2006.”

3. Be brief, clear and to the point. The average credit report dispute is processed in a matter of minutes so don’t expect the person processing your dispute to pour over several pages of narrative. Make sure you clearly state the reason for your dispute close to the top and put any other relevant information into bullets. If your letter is more than one page, it’s too long.

4. Write clearly or type your complaint. If your handwriting is legible, feel free to handwrite your complaint. If it’s not, type it.

5. Don’t quote credit protection laws. You don’t need to reference the section of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that applies to disputes. The credit reporting agencies know they have to investigate consumer disputes. Reference the FCRA and it may sound like you are being coached by a credit repair firm.  Credit bureaus do NOT like credit repair firms and will hold up disputes if they think you are being coached.

6. Include copies of documentation, if available. If you have something that documents your side of the story, feel free to include a copies - not originals. Highlight any particularly relevant parts; for example, a statement from the credit card issuer that it would remove certain negative information from your reports.

7. Let them know you’re speaking up. If you have tried to resolve your dispute but are getting nowhere, you may want to put a CC: at the bottom of your letter, indicating you’ll also be sending a copy to the Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general’s office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There’s no need to do this the first time you complain, but if you aren’t getting results, getting others involved may help your dispute get the attention it deserves.

8. Ask a friend or relative to proofread it. Ask someone you trust to take a quick look at the letter to get their opinion on whether the reason for your dispute is clear. If they don’t understand it, the person reading the letter may not either.
Next > Sample Letters
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