Yes, they can. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, as amended by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA), allows the consumer to question accuracy of reports, and furnish proofs to be considered in making corrections. Several years ago, I taught a seminar just after a change in the law. You can examine those seminar materials here: Fair Credit Reporting and mortgage reporting, bky issues . If you want to read the law yourself, you can access it here: FCRA as amended by FACTA
In essence, those rules provide that you have the right to one free report each year, and you can apply for that report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (CRAs): Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you would like the form to use, you will find it here: Annual Credit Report Request Form . If you are turned down for a loan, you can get the credit report which was used to evaluate your credit, and it is also at no cost.
In order to dispute inaccurate (including incomplete) credit entries, you must contact the CRA with information showing the inaccuracy, and they have 30 days to investigate. Hopefully, they will make the correction with no further effort on your part.
Review my attached writing to consider all the myriad ways a credit report can get inaccurate. Frankly, it is amazing we have accurate reports. A number of years ago, it was estimated that 40% of the reports have errors which will lead to denial of credit, and 80% of reports have errors in general. With that in mind, looking at your report once a year is a good idea.
One common area of inaccuracy is the listing of debt discharged in bankruptcy. Often, the report is not updated after bankruptcy. Even though debt is washed out in bankruptcy, the credit report is silent as to that issue, giving the impression that the debt is still owed! Thus, it is always wise to review the credit report 6 months after a bankruptcy discharge. If you continue to pay on debt after a bankruptcy, the creditor must continue to report your payments after bankruptcy, in order for the report to be accurate.