FCRA Dispute: What’s the Best Way to File?

Last Updated:
April 6, 2023

Because credit reports and credit scores are so important to American consumers, the federal government has implemented credit report protections and legal rights via the FCRA: the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If your credit score has one or more errors and you need to dispute information for the health of your credit, you need to fully grasp your rights and means of filing a dispute.

This guide will break down the best way to file an FCRA credit dispute and more.

Credit Disputes – What Does the FCRA Say?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides all American consumers with certain rights in regard to their credit scores and reports. Specifically, the FCRA says:

  • You always have the right to dispute errors on your credit report, such as duplicate accounts, inaccurate credit information, and more. If you report an error, the agency/credit bureau in question is legally required to look into the mistake
  • If the bureau discovers a mistake with its credit report, it must be removed. If the reporting agency can’t verify that the information they have regarding a reported error is correct, they have to remove the problematic line item within 30 days
  • Credit furnishers cannot report outdated negative information. For example, if you had credit issues with a lender in the past and they were resolved, those credit issues are only legally allowed to show up on your credit report for seven years (with the exception of bankruptcy, which can show up for 10 years)
  • All consumers have the right to sue credit reporting agencies for damages if they violate the FCRA. This extends to suing individuals or agencies depending on the circumstances of your case

In summary, you always have the right to look into credit errors and get them corrected at the earliest opportunity. So don’t be afraid of filing an FCRA credit dispute with one or more credit bureaus if it’s necessary. It’s easier than you think, and the credit bureaus do have a vested interest in maintaining accurate records wherever possible.

When to File an FCRA Dispute

The best time to file an FCRA dispute is right when you notice a credit problem. If you keep track of your credit report and the health of your credit score, you may notice some inaccurate line items, like duplicate charges or duplicate debts, that could drag down or negatively affect your financial options.

Once you notice those issues, file a dispute ASAP. The sooner you file a dispute, the faster the credit bureau can look into it and correct the negative information before it has an outsized effect on your credit score. Most credit disputes take over a month to complete, so time is of the essence (especially if you’re looking to apply for a loan or credit card soon).

Furthermore, filing an FCRA dispute shortly after an error shows up makes it more likely that the credit bureau will agree to your request. If you take too long to dispute an error, it could appear as though you don’t care too much about the debt or otherwise cast doubts on your motivations.

You may wish to file an FCRA dispute in situations like:

  • You notice duplicate collection accounts on your credit report 
  • A debt that you previously paid off still shows up as unpaid on your credit report
  • The debts or loans of another person with the same or identical name as you appear on your credit report, so your credit score is affected by their financial burdens
  • And more

The Best Way to File an FCRA Credit Dispute: Online

If you need to file an FCRA credit dispute, the best way to do so is online. Each of the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – has an online portal through which consumers can file online credit disputes.

Filing online is advantageous because it’s fast, efficient, and it gets the information to the credit bureaus immediately. Again, the faster you bring an issue to the attention of the bureaus, the faster the problem can be solved.

To file a credit dispute online, simply go to the website of the credit bureau with the affected report (e.g., if you notice a problem on your Experian credit report, go to the Experian website), then locate the dispute page or portal. Follow the on-screen instructions to file your report.

What Should You Include in Your Dispute Filing?

Whatever you file a credit dispute, you should include the following information at a minimum:

  • All relevant contact information, like your name, address, and telephone number
  • Your report confirmation number, if provided to you
  • Your credit report number, usually located at the top of your credit report
  • A clear breakdown of each mistake, including line items, account numbers, and account balances, so the credit bureau agents can quickly identify the problems and investigate them
  • An explanation of why you are disputing credit information
  • Your request that the information be corrected or removed depending on the context

Don’t forget to include a copy of the credit report you’re disputing. If you file online, this should be available as a PDF or Word file.

Alternative Ways to File a Credit Dispute

If you don’t want to file a credit dispute online, you can file an FCRA dispute in two other ways.

Write a Letter

Firstly, you can write a letter to the credit bureau(s) you need to contact. Each bureau has a mailing address you can use for this purpose. Be sure to include the above information in your physical dispute letter, but be prepared to wait for several weeks before you get a response.

Contact the Credit Bureaus by Phone

Secondly, you can contact the credit bureaus by phone. Each maintains a phone number for customer complaints or dispute questions. The credit bureaus will most likely direct you to the online or physical letter methods, however. It's best to use the credit bureau phone numbers if you wish to inquire about the status of your dispute.

What if Your Dispute is Ignored?

Even though the credit bureaus and credit furnishers are both legally obligated to adhere to the rules laid out by the FCRA, sometimes, credit disputes are ignored. If this happens, you do have options.

Firstly, you have the right to add a statement to your credit file. If a credit bureau investigation doesn't resolve a dispute with a credit reporting company, you can request that a statement of the dispute be attached to your file and summarized for all future credit reports. In some cases, this can help explain a poor financial situation to lenders/creditors.

However, you also have the right to bring a lawsuit against a credit reporting company if you believe it is violating the FCRA. In this case, the company could be held liable for attorney fees and actual damages, including statutory and/or punitive damages. But there are time limits or statutes of limitations before which you have to bring a lawsuit forward.

Due to these facts, it’s a good idea to get in touch with legal representatives, who can explain your options and help you determine the best path going forward.


When your credit report has one or more errors, the best way to fix them is to file a dispute online with the appropriate credit bureau. Each credit bureau maintains an online filing portal for just this purpose. But remember, you can also file a credit dispute letter or call the credit bureaus to explain the situation if needed.

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