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What should you do if you find inaccuracies in your credit reports?


If you find errors in your credit reports, you should take steps to correct your reports. Under federal law, both the credit reporting agency, and the organization that provided the information to the agency, such as a bank or credit card company, have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights under the law, contact both the credit reporting agency and the information provider.

If you find errors in your credit reports, the credit reporting agencies must investigate the items in question as described by the Federal Trade Commission, usually within 30 days. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the credit reporting agency, it must investigate; review all relevant information provided by the credit reporting agency; and report the results to the agency. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide credit reporting agencies so they can correct this information in your file.

Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.

Contact the credit agencies



If your report contains erroneous information, the credit reporting agency must correct it.
If an item is incomplete, the credit reporting agency must complete it. For example, if your file showed that you were late making payments, but failed to show that you were no longer delinquent, the credit reporting agency must show that you're current.
If your file shows an account that belongs only to another person, the credit reporting agency must delete it.

When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting agency must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the credit reporting agency cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the credit reporting agency gives you a written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the provider.

Also, if you request, the credit reporting agency must send notices of corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. Job applicants can have a corrected copy of their report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If a reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the credit reporting agency to include your statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports.

Remember, when submitting your dispute letter, tell the credit reporting agency in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in the report that you dispute, state the facts that explain why you dispute the information, and request deletion or correction. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the credit reporting agency received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

In addition to writing to the credit reporting agency, tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Again, include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider then reports the item to any credit reporting agency, it must include a notice of your dispute. In addition, if you are correct - that is, if the disputed information is not accurate - the information provider may not use it again.

When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. Accurate negative information can generally stay on your report for seven years.

There are certain exceptions:

Information about criminal convictions may be reported without any time limitation.
Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years.
Credit information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more than $75,000 has no time limit.
Credit information reported because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limit.
Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. Criminal convictions can be reported without any time limit.
For more information on correcting your credit score, including a sample dispute letter, visit the Federal Trade Commission's web site or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
OPRA is a state law that was enacted to give the public greater access to government records maintained by public agencies in New Jersey.
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New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance