How long does it take to correct your credit report? Unfortunately, the answer may depend on what kinds of corrections may be needed. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit agencies to respond to you over complaints of erroneous, incomplete, outdated, or inaccurate information.
According to the FTC, “To take advantage of all your rights under this law, contact the credit reporting company and the information provider.” It’s best to review your credit report on a regular basis, but especially in the planning stages for a real estate loan, small business loan, VA mortgage loan, or other lines of credit.
Why does it take time to correct a credit report? Because you must contact the credit agency, there may be contact with your past or current creditors to determine the accuracy of your claim, and then the reporting agencies must correct, review, update, and publish the credit report.
And that’s not even taking into account what needs to be done to correct your credit report after identity theft, stolen credit cards, etc. It takes even longer to correct a report after your identity has been stolen because you will be required to file police reports, submit supporting evidence where applicable, etc.
How Long It Takes To Correct A Credit Report
Every case is different, and you may need as long as six months to get full closure on a credit report update, complaint of inaccurate information or identity theft, etc. According to InfoArmor, owned by the insurance company Allstate, “On average, it can take between 100 and 200 hours and six months to fix. But in some cases, it can take thousands of hours and years to resolve fully.”
What To Do If You Are Concerned About Identity Theft
Did you know you can take steps to monitor your credit report for evidence of identity theft? By contacting each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) you can set up a fraud alert on each report:
- Initial fraud alerts, which last 90 days and are usually initiated if you believe your identity might have been stolen or compromised;
- Extended fraud alerts, which can last as long as seven years if you are certain your identity has been compromised or stolen
- Active duty alerts are good for up to one year and apply to military members who are being deployed.
Get Your Free Credit Report
Monitoring your reports doesn’t have to cost you any money. The official site for TransUnion (one of the “big three” credit reporting agencies” includes the following advice;
“Once a year, you also have the right to a free copy of the information in your file at any consumer reporting agency, if you believe it has inaccurate information due to fraud, such as identity theft. You also have the ability to obtain additional free file disclosures under other provisions of the FCRA. See www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.”
How To Dispute Items On Your Report
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers sound advice to consumers on its’ official site including some tips on how to dispute your credit report. If you need to contest old, inaccurate, or otherwise erroneous information (including evidence of identity theft), the following steps can be very helpful:
- Submit a complaint that includes contact information for you including complete name, address, and telephone number
- Clearly identify each problem and include account numbers, relevant dates, amounts, and other supporting information. More detail is better than less.
- Explain why you are disputing the information–fraud, errors, outdated information, etc.
- Specifically ask for the information to be removed or corrected
- Enclose a copy of the portion of your report that contains the disputed items and circle or highlight the disputed items. Submit COPIES of supporting evidence but DO NOT submit original receipts or other paperwork.
Joe Wallace specializes in personal finance, military affairs, and consumer protection topics. Since 1995, his work has appeared on Air Force Television News, The Pentagon Channel, ABC and a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year Air Force veteran and collects unusual vinyl records, which gives him an excuse to write the vinyl blog Turntabling.net.