How to Fix Your Credit Report (and Identity Theft)

I recently presented information detailing and how to get your free credit report.

I thought I’d follow up that post with one on what to do when you have incorrect information on your reports.

After all, the reason you need to check your reports periodically is because there may be something wrong on them.

This incorrect information could indicate fraud, and/or could lead to you not getting a loan (or at least the best loan you can).

Someone I know was recently denied a loan because of some negative history on his credit report. It turns out that when he reviewed his report, his Dad had used his SSN to apply for some credit cards a long time ago and then defaulted.

This is essentially identity fraud against your family. Sad. My point in sharing this is to stress the importance of reviewing your credit report periodically, as you never know who is going use it and screw it up.

How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

If you have a simple error on your report here’s how to go about getting it corrected:

Tell the reporting agency (TransUnion, Experian, or Equifax), in writing, what information you think is correct. Send them copies of evidence of your claim. Keep copies of everything you send and send it certified mail, return receipt requested.

Unless they think it’s bogus, they must send to the creditor or information provider to investigate your claim (takes about 30 days). If they agree they will inform the other two agencies. Once they correct the mistake, you can have them send corrected copies to everyone who got one in the past six months.

Next, you need to tell the creditor or information provider. I guess this step is in there to ensure that the information provider sees your complaint, as the reporting agency could have considered it frivolous and tossed it. Same rules apply on copies and mailing method.

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Sample Dispute Letter


But What if It’s Identity Fraud?

If someone stole your identity you need to step it up a notch and take the following extra steps according to the FTC:

  1. Place a fraud alert on your credit reports.
  2. Close the accounts that you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  3. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Visit this link for more details.

But What if it’s Family?

Like the story I shared above, there are several people who have their identity taken by their own family members. Dr. Phil had a show recently on identity theft within the family.

One segment was on a 23-year-old girl named Mattie, whose Mom has been stealing her identity and won’t stop. Dr. Phil’s expert on the show was Tom Syta, an FTC Director.

Tom says to treat family members the same as a criminal. During the show “Tom suggests that Mattie, and other victims of identity theft, go to the FTC’s Web site and fill out an identity theft affidavit to take to the credit reporting agencies.”

Tom also suggests filing a police report, which may or may not be effective, depending on your jurisdiction and the dollar amount involved.  Wow, that would be tough to have to file a police report against your own family. I don’t know that I could have done that at 23 years old.

More Stories of Family Identity Fraud

Have you had your identity stolen? If so, how did you fix your credit?

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About Philip Taylor, CPA

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, blogger, podcaster, husband, and father of three. PT is also the founder and CEO of the personal finance industry conference and trade show, FinCon. He created this website back in 2007 to share his advice on money, hold himself accountable (while paying off over $75k in debt), and to meet others passionate about moving toward financial independence. He uses Personal Capital to track his wealth. All the content on this blog is original and created or edited by PT.


  1. The Id Theft article is great.

    I gave a thumbs up.

  2. Thanks for the great advice and info PT.

    I remember watching that Dr Phil. It was really horrible. It seems harsh but if you are in a similar situation you really do need to do what it takes to protect your future.

  3. Mrs. Micah says

    Thanks for including my post, PT. The one good thing I can say for all the frustration of not having a credit report is that at least my identity appears not to have been stolen. It’d have to exist first. 😉