Most Common Errors on Credit Reports & How to Fix Them


Most Common Errors on Credit Reports & How to Fix Them

May 17, 2023
Certified Credit

Your credit reports have far-reaching ramifications. Most notably, the information contained in your credit reports is used to calculate your credit score. If any of this information is outdated or inaccurate, it may cause your credit score to be lower than it should be.

According to a recent Consumer Reports study, one-third of consumers have at least one error on their credit reports.[i] If you’re one of them, your inaccurate credit score may make it harder to qualify for loans and credit cards with low-interest rates.

Below, we’ll review the most common credit report errors to watch out for. We’ll also explain how you can fix errors on your credit report and restore the accuracy of your credit score.

What is a Credit Report?

Your credit report is a detailed record of your credit history from the past seven to ten years.[ii] Credit reports contain:

    • Personal data, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth
    • The types of credit accounts you’ve opened
    • The date that each account was opened and closed
    • Your credit limits, loan amounts, and account balances
    • Your payment history, including any late payments or collection accounts
    • Recent credit inquiries from lenders, employers, and insurers
    • Public records, including bankruptcies, foreclosures, and judgments

Lenders, insurance providers, landlords, and employers use this information to determine if you’re someone who manages their money well and is likely to make their debt payments on time. Positive credit history can help you earn a high credit score, while negative marks can drag your score down and limit your future financing opportunities.

You have a credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Lenders are not required to report to all three credit bureaus, so your information may vary slightly from one credit report to another.

How to Check Your Credit Report

Before you can review your credit reports for errors, you need to obtain a copy of each of them. You can do so for free every 12 months on

Most Common Credit Report Errors

Once you have your credit reports in front of you, you can look through them to see if there are any errors. Here are the most common inaccuracies to watch out for:

    • Personal information errors – Nearly 30% of people from the Consumer Reports study had errors relating to their personal information.[iii] These types of errors can include inaccurate names, Social Security numbers, addresses, or phone numbers.While seemingly innocuous, the consequences of these types of errors can be quite serious. For instance, an inaccurate name could mean that you’ve been mistaken for someone with a violent felony, leading to your wrongful denial for jobs or apartments that require background checks. Or maybe your credit reports are receiving credit activity from someone with a very similar name.
    • Incorrect accounts – Another notable portion of credit reporting errors is due to inaccurate account information. For example, you may notice that:
      • An open account is reported as closed
      • A closed account is reported as open
      • You’re listed as an authorized user instead of an account owner, or vice versa
      • The open date, date of last payment, or date of first delinquency is inaccurate
      • An account shows late payments even though you’ve made all of them on time
      • The same account is listed multiple times
    • Balance errors – Next, the data about your account balances and credit limits may be off. If it is, your credit utilization won’t be calculated correctly. Since credit utilization is worth 30% of your FICO credit score,[iv] you want to double-check this information to ensure it’s right.
    • Outdated information – Most credit report data falls off your reports within seven years. Bankruptcies are a notable exception—they can stick around for up to ten years.[v] If you notice old information that should have fallen off by now, you’ll want to make sure it’s removed as soon as possible. Additionally, if you’re divorced, you’ll want to make sure that your former spouse’s accounts are no longer showing up on your reports.
    • Fraudulent transactions – So far, the errors we’ve discussed are typically due to data-entry mishaps. Unfortunately, some credit report mistakes are more nefarious—they may be due to identity theft or fraud. Some examples can include credit accounts you didn’t apply for or transactions you didn’t make.
    • Missing accounts – While not technically an error, you may notice that some of your lenders don’t report to all three credit bureaus regularly, if at all. If your on-time payments aren’t being reported, this positive credit activity won’t be able to bolster your credit score. In this case, you may want to reach out to your lenders and ask them to report your information to all three credit bureaus. While they’re not obligated to do so, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

How to Fix Errors On Your Credit Reports

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), credit bureaus are required to correct errors in a timely manner.[vi] Thus, if you notice any of the errors mentioned above, you can dispute them with the credit bureaus.

Here’s the contact information to file your dispute online, by mail, or over the phone with each of the credit bureaus:




When you file your dispute, you’ll need to explain why the information is inaccurate and include documentation to prove your claims. The credit bureau will then have 30 days to conduct an investigation.[vii]

How to Report Identity Theft

If you suspect that you may be a victim of identity theft, filing a dispute with the credit bureaus is only the first step. You should also:

    • File an identity theft report on
    • File a police report
    • File a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

After that, you’ll want to block the fraudulent data from your credit reports. To do so, you’ll need to share a copy of your formal identity theft report with the credit bureaus, as well as proof of your identity and a letter outlining the fraudulent activity. You can find a sample letter for this process on The credit bureaus must block your fraudulent data within four days of receiving your letter.[viii]

How to Set Up Fraud Alerts on Your Credit Reports

A fraud alert lets lenders know that you’re dealing with identity theft. In turn, they know to take extra steps to verify your identity before approving new credit applications.

You can request a fraud alert by reaching out to one of the credit bureaus. The credit bureau you contact will notify the other two on your behalf.

Here’s each credit bureau’s fraud alert contact information:


      • Phone – (888) 397-3742
      • OnlineExperian Fraud Center
      • MailExperian,
        O. Box 9554,
        Allen, TX 75013


      • Phone – (800) 685-1111
      • OnlineEquifax Alerts
      • Mail Equifax Consumer Fraud Division,

PO Box 740256,

Atlanta, GA 30374


      • Phone – (888) 909-8872
      • Online Transunion Fraud Alert
      • Mail TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department,

P.O. Box 2000,

Chester, PA 19016


How Long Do Fraud Alerts Last?

If you file an initial fraud alert, it will stay active for one year.[ix] This type of fraud alert is meant for consumers who aren’t sure if they’ve had their identity stolen but have reason to be concerned.

If you can confirm that you’ve fallen victim to identity theft, you can request an extended fraud alert. You’ll need to provide additional documents to complete the request. Once the extended fraud alert is in place, it will stay on your credit reports for up to seven years.

The final type of fraud alert is reserved for military members on active duty. It lasts one year and lets potential lenders know that you’re currently deployed.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, credit reporting errors are more common than many people realize. Thus, it’s important to review your credit report regularly to ensure it’s error-free.

If you want to learn more about credit reports and credit scores, check out the Certified Credit blog. There, we discuss what you should know as a first-time home buyer, the difference between consumer credit scores vs. mortgage credit scores, ways to improve your credit score, and so much more.

Certified Credit: Innovative Mortgage Lending Solutions

If you’re a mortgage lender, educating your borrowers about their credit reports and credit scores is an important marketing strategy. By guiding your borrowers into better creditworthiness, you can help them qualify for a mortgage with you sooner.

Here at Certified Credit, we create many educational materials that you can share with your borrowers, such as our First-Time Homebuyer Guide. We also offer a wide range of mortgage lending solutions, including:

    • Affordable credit reports
    • Credit score improvement tools
    • Automated lead generation and borrower retention tools
    • Automated prequalification
    • Automated verification of income and employment
    • Automated undisclosed debt monitoring
    • Flood zone determinations
    • Fraud and risk support
    • Settlement services

You can learn more about our innovative products and services by scheduling a credit consultation with us today.



[i] Consumer Reports. More Than a Third of Volunteers in a Consumer Reports Study Found Errors in Their Credit Reports.

[ii] Equifax. What Is a Credit Report and What Is on It?

[iii] Consumer Reports. More Than a Third of Volunteers in a Consumer Reports Study Found Errors in Their Credit Reports.

[iv] Bankrate. Everything you need to know about credit utilization ratio.,can%20lower%20your%20credit%20score.

[v] CFPB. How long does negative information remain on my credit report?,where%20they%20will%20report%20it.

[vi] FTC. Fair Credit Reporting Act.

[vii] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If a credit reporting error is corrected, how long will it take before I find out the results?

[viii] CFPB. What do I do if I’ve been a victim of identity theft?,that%20someone%20stole%20your%20identity.

[ix] Equifax. 7 Things to Know About Fraud Alerts.