Step 1 – Pull your own credit report at least once a year. You can pull it once a year for free at This website is sponsored by all three credit reporting agencies so no one is going to sell you anything. This site will only let you pull your credit report for free one time every year so you may have to visit the actual credit reporting agency’s website to pull it more than once per year.

Step 2 – Review your credit report. Check:

  1. Public records to see if there any judgments or liens that do not belong to you.
  2. The “Potentially Negative Items” section to be sure that each of these is appropriate.
  3. Your trade lines to be sure that all of them belong to you. Then check the payment history to be sure that your creditors are reporting all of the payments that you have made and that they are being reporting correctly.
  4. The bottom of your report to see who has pulled your credit report. Every time someone pulls your credit report, it leaves a “foot print” showing the name of the company and the reason why it was pulled. If you did not authorize any of these credit reports to be pulled on you, then your rights have been violated and your credit score may be adversely affected.

Step 3 – Post a dispute to anything that is not accurate about your credit report. Use our sample Consumer Dispute Letter and tell the credit reporting agency (and not just the creditor) what the mistake is on your credit report. Be specific. Also, be sure to attach as many documents as you need to prove your point. For example, if you went through bankruptcy and a pre-bankruptcy trade line is showing a balance due, dispute that trade line and attach a copy of your notice of discharge from the bankruptcy court.
While its tempting to post your disputes on line, you are far better off positing your dispute in writing and sending it in via certified mail. Be sure to keep a copy of your dispute letter and all supporting documents that you sent with it. It will be your proof that you made that dispute to the credit reporting agency if you have to file a lawsuit.

Step 4 – If you have posted a dispute with the Credit Reporting Agency about an inaccuracy on your credit report, follow up with the agency if you do not receive a response after 30 days. The credit reporting agencies investigate thousands of disputes per day. Its easy for one to get lost somewhere. For more information watch our short video entitled How to Protect and Defend your credit report or our other short self help videos under our How To Videos section.