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How to dispute your credit report

Jafar Hassan
Written by Jafar Hassan, Content editor

Edited by Marianne Curphey, Finance Writer, 2 October 2020

Have you checked your credit rating and found incorrect information on credit report? Read our guide to learn how to dispute your credit report, and prevent errors from damaging your credit score.
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Bad credit rating - How to improve credit rating
Bad credit rating - How to improve credit rating

Credit scoring agencies provide people with their credit report and score, which allows them to see how their credit history has affected their lending profile.

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This, in turn, will affect how likely that person is to receive credit and be accepted for a variety of products such as credit cards, mortgages, loans, bank accounts and even mobile phone and gas and electricity contracts.

However, there are times when your credit report will display something that doesn't seem right or incorrect information on your credit report. Such as a missed bill payment that you actually paid on time, or a technical error by the bank, that made it look like you were going too far into your overdraft.

What kind of incorrect information can be displayed in a credit report?

There are unfortunately a range of errors that could crop up in your credit report.

For example, if you received a County Court Judgement and settle it within the required time, it's supposed to come off your record. However, in recording that information one of the credit reference agencies in theory might make an administrative error or have not received that information from the creditors.

It's worth noting, however, that these types of errors are rare. Even so, it's important to check your credit report, as the consequences could be severe if an error has been sitting there for a long time.

Other errors could be a missed bill payment that you managed to pay on time, or even a credit card's activity being completely unrecorded, thus giving the impression that you have no financial history.

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Fraudulent activity and technical errors can also impact on your credit score, not just your personal finances.

If your bank has an error that affects your finances, such as displaying the wrong amount of money in your account, this could hurt your credit score, especially if they take some time to fix it.

If somebody has used your credit card without your knowledge, this could also be problematic for your credit score if you do not resolve the issue quick enough.

How do I fix an error on my credit report?

If you do find an error in your credit report, it's important to dispute credit report discrepancies quickly:

  • Your first port of call should be the provider or creditor the error was associated with. So if your credit card company recorded that you missed a payment and you want to dispute that, call up the credit card company.

  • You should obviously have some evidence of the error being in fact an error, so any receipts or statements will be useful.

  • If the credit card company agrees that it was an error, they have to update their records within a one-month period, and this update goes out to the credit reference agency.

  • However, if the credit card company says that they have no record of the error and everything is correct on their side, then speak to the credit reference agency.

  • They will review the error and make the relevant changes after an investigation into the dispute.

  • You should then also check your credit report with the other credit reference agencies to ensure that they too do not have the same error.

Unfortunately, as the process above suggests, most of the leg work falls onto the consumer. It can seem unfair if an error that's not your fault is recorded, especially if you then you have to chase up the issue. But, if you notice a mistake, dispute it so it can be corrected if possible.

Charge cards close up

Unfortunately, the pressure to fix credit report errors falls on the consumer, not the agency or creditor

The same applies not just to a credit card company, but if the incorrect information on your credit report is from a gas and electricity provider, mobile phone network, bank or mortgage lender and more. Nonetheless, the process should be the same.

If your dispute goes unresolved after the investigation, then you're allowed to write a 200-word statement explaining your side of the story, which will then be saved alongside the disputed information.

This will not improve your credit score, but it will allow future creditors to consider this statement before judging your application.

It's possible to pay credit file correction companies to do this on your behalf, but it could cost you well over £200 a year.

Is the credit reference agency to blame if there is an error?

The three credit reference agencies, Experian, Callcredit and Equifax provide lenders with your credit report if you apply for a product with them.

This gives them plenty of power of your ability to get a mobile phone contract, credit card, mortgage and much more.

As a result, having an error free credit report is absolutely important, as any mistakes could damage your credit score.

Are your finances in good shape?

Check your credit report to make sure you're in good shape to apply for loans, credit cards, overdrafts, mortgages and mobile phone contracts

Not all credit reference agencies have the exact same information about you. Although they overlap each other, they can sometimes have different information.

This isn't always a bad thing, but it could mean that if for example one credit reference agency's report has an error on it, that could affect your overall credit score.

They're most likely to have an error because a credit provider didn't give them that information, or there was an administrative error in recording your financial history.

Some argue that it should be the role of the credit reference agency to chase up banks and other credit providers for your information, rather than consumers having to file a complaint and get the error fixed.

Unfortunately, this practice is unlikely to change so it is vital that consumers check their credit report thoroughly and proactively work to fix any errors they find.

In short, it's not exactly the fault of the credit reference agency for recording an error in your financial history, but doubts remain over the credit scoring industry's willingness to get every single consumer's information absolutely correct.

Are your finances in good shape?

Check your credit report to make sure you're in good shape to apply for loans, credit cards, overdrafts, mortgages and mobile phone contracts