How to Dispute Your Credit Bureau Report & Win: Collections, Inquiries
Ways to Dispute Credit Bureau Report
- Check Your Credit Report
- Identify Harmful and Inaccurate Entries
- Determine Which Entries can be Disputed
- Gather Documentation to Support Your Dispute
- File Your Dispute with the Credit Bureau
Everyone knows how important credit is. However, many people don’t know how to protect their credit. Many credit monitoring services just let you know when there’s a change to your report. But what do you do when that change is incorrect?
Most services don’t dispute your credit bureau report for you. That means you’ll need to either hire another service or do it yourself. This seems like a daunting task for many people. However, it’s not as hard as you may think.
This article covers the basic facts you need to know about credit reports and credit reporting. It also explains how false information can get on your report. Finally, we’ll explain how to dispute a credit report and win. Use this information to protect your credit score from harm.
What is a Credit Report?
A credit report is a record of your credit and debt. Authorized lenders and creditors track your monthly payments. They report when you don’t make payments on time.
Your credit report has other important information too. It includes the different loan and credit accounts you have. It also records how much you owe on each account. This plays a role in determining your credit score.
A credit report also contains a record of certain financial events. That includes things like bankruptcies, judgements, and defaults. These are part of what is known as your credit history.
Your credit history plays a key role in determining your credit score. If you’re going to protect your credit score from false information, then you need to know your credit history. That means you need to be able to tell the difference between a legitimate entry and one that shouldn’t be there.
Credit reporting agencies use all of this information to produce a credit score. The score is on a scale from 300 to 850. The higher the score is, the better. Most scores fall between 600 and 750.
Why Do I Need a Good Credit Score?
A good credit score is important for several reasons. The first is that it plays a large role when banks and lenders decide to offer you a loan or credit. These companies look at your credit score. It tells them how much of a risk that you pose as a borrower. After all, lenders are in the business of making money. If there’s a good chance someone won’t pay back their loan, then then lender won’t want to do business with them.
In addition to whether or not you get approved for a loan, your credit score also shapes the terms of the loan. That includes things like interest rates. However, it can also influence what kinds of additional fees you have to pay. That means that people with a high credit score pay less to borrow money than people with a lower credit score.
The difference might only be a few percentage points. However, those few points can result in a large amount of money spent on a loan. In fact, depending on the size of the loan, someone might find themselves paying tens or even hundreds of dollars more in interest.
Your credit score can influence other things as well. Many landlords look at someone’s credit score before letting them sign a lease. Lots of jobs require a credit check to see how well you handle money. That means a poor credit score can cost you your dream job or the perfect place to live.
Incorrect Information on Credit Reports
Given that your credit score is so important, you’d be surprised to find out how much inaccurate information is on credit reports. This inaccurate information is almost always bad. After all, most of the information that companies submit to credit agencies is negative.
You can find yourself dealing with someone else’s financial problems. There are many ways that could happen. Sometimes the agencies put information on the wrong file. For example, if your name is the same or similar to someone else’s name. They can also misfile information. That information might wind up on your credit report.
In the same way, paperwork problems can happen further upstream. If a lender accidentally confuses your account with someone else’s account while they’re entering data. Depending on the system, a few typos can put harmful information on your credit report.
Finally, incorrect information on a credit report can be the result of identity theft. If someone steals your identity and uses it to take out a loan or open a credit account, you’ll be blamed for that. That information will show up on your credit report and hurt your good name.
Thankfully, there’s something you can do. Federal law allows you to dispute information on your credit report. There are a few ways to do this.
Once you’ve disputed the information, the credit agency checks with your lender. The lender has to prove that the information is 100% accurate. Federal law says that any information that isn’t 100% verified can’t be included on a credit report.
Disputing Credit Reports
Disputing credit reports is the process of challenging information on your report. You can claim that the information isn’t true. You can also request for verification.
Disputing credit reports helps consumers. It protects their credit score from inaccurate information. That information can bring down their credit score. As a result, they’ll have a harder time getting approved for loans and credit. They’ll also face higher interest rates.
False information can also prevent you from getting the home you want. It can even cost you a new job. Therefore, it’s very important to know how to dispute a credit report and win.
How to Dispute a Credit Report and Win
Disputing a credit report is one thing. Disputing and winning is something else entirely. After all, the goal of the dispute is to remove harmful and inaccurate information from your report.
There are two primary ways to dispute information on a credit report. The first is a credit dispute letter. The second way to challenge credit information is through a verification request.
Each of these methods has its own unique quirks. Each one is a bit different. We’ll cover each of them. We’ll also give you the information you need to make your letters and verification requests successful. That will help you boost your credit score.
Three Credit Bureaus
Before we cover dispute letters and challenges, you need to know who you’re communicating with. Credit scores are kept by three primary credit agencies. These are Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.
Each agency keeps its own records. Lenders and creditors report to all three agencies. Also, each agency processes information differently. That means your score with each company will be a little bit different.
Different lenders use different agencies to check your credit. You usually won’t know which agency they use ahead of time. Moreover, false credit information can spread from one report to the next. That means bad information on your Transunion report can taint your Equifax report.
As a result, you’ll need to send your letters or verification requests to all three agencies. You’ll need to dispute specific information on each agency’s report. Otherwise, your lenders may use a credit report you haven’t fixed yet.
Credit Dispute Letters
The first option is a credit dispute letter. You can dispute any item on your report. When you dispute the item, the credit bureau is obligated to follow up on it. They must verify, correct, or delete the item within 30 days.
A credit dispute letter and a verification challenge are similar. However, there’s one important difference. A verification letter requests that the agency prove that the information is accurate. However, a dispute letter asserts it is wrong.
That means for your dispute letter to work, you need to have evidence that information is inaccurate. The type of information you need can change on a case-by-case basis. For example, you may need a police report or court judgement to prove that some information is the result of identity theft.
You can also challenge information if there was some kind of problem with the lender. For example, if the lender offers a “no payments for 6 months” promotion, but then defines the 6-month period as the starting date of the promotion. That’s a misleading statement and can impact your credit. Challenging a late payment item on that basis would likely be successful.
You shouldn’t dispute something unless you have proof it’s false or you were misled. Remember, knowing something is false isn’t the same thing as having proof. That’s why it’s so important to keep your financial documents in order. That will help you track what is and isn’t a legitimate credit report entry. As a result, you can aggressively go after bad information on your report.
A credit verification request is a bit different from a dispute. However, many groups and websites lump them into the same category. That’s because the result of a successful verification challenge and a successful dispute letter are the same. They both cause the harmful information to be deleted from your report.
A verification request is different because of the claim you’re making. Instead of asserting that an item is false and providing evidence to back your claim, you as the creditor or credit bureau to prove it’s true.
Federal law gives creditors and credit reporting agencies 30 days to comply with any verification request. Federal law also says that an item can’t be included on a credit report if it’s not verified to be 100% true.
This situation works out well for consumers. It also protects you from debt predators. For example, many people have student loans. Some people get those loans forgiven through loan forgiveness programs. However, just because your loan is forgiven doesn’t mean someone won’t try to collect on it.
Companies frequently buy and sell debt to each other. In fact, there’s a whole industry dedicated to buying debt and then collecting on it. Sometimes accounts get added to the transaction which shouldn’t be there. If the collecting company tries to collect on your forgiven student loans, you may not have the paperwork to prove they were forgiven.
That’s when you use a verification request. When you make the request, your creditor must prove that you owe the loan. If you’re challenging late payments, then the creditor must prove you needed to pay and didn’t. If they can’t prove all of these things, then the credit reporting agency must delete it from your report.
Other Uses for a Verification Request to Dispute Credit Reports
Another thing that many people don’t know is that you can request a description of how something was verified. This is called a method-of-verification letter. This type of letter is a request for how the credit reporting agency determined your information was correct.
Federal law, specifically FCRA Section 611, says that the companies must provide you with the method they used to determine the accuracy of your information. If they can’t give you that information, then they’re in big trouble.
The information used to verify credit entries must meet certain standards. The method of verification letter is how you can tell if the proof used by the companies meets those standards. If it doesn’t, then you have grounds for a dispute, or maybe even a lawsuit. However, you’ll need to contact a lawyer about your specific case.
Steps to Dispute Credit Bureau Report
It can be challenging to understand how to dispute items on your credit report. This list covers everything you need to dispute harmful and inaccurate credit report entries. Successfully disputing entries is a great way to raise your credit score and protect your good name.
Check Your Credit Report
The first step to disputing items on your credit report is to actually check your credit report. State and federal laws allow you to check your credit report for free at least once per year. You can also use credit monitoring services to check your credit report.
Identify Harmful and Inaccurate Entries
The next step is to identify the harmful and inaccurate entries on your credit report. Look for late and missed payments that are bringing down your score. You should also check for inaccurate inquiries, charge offs, and more. Remember, mistakes happen – so you might find items that are completely unrelated to your own actions.
Determine Which Entries can be Disputed
Once you’ve spotted the items that are bringing down your score you’ll need to decide which items to dispute. You should focus on inaccurate items. Check your credit report against your own records to see what entries you should challenge. You should also look for duplicate entries and inaccurate information regarding your employers, addresses, names, and more.
Gather Documentation to Support Your Dispute
After you decide which entries you can dispute you need to collect the documentation you have which will support your dispute. The more documentation you have the better your odds of being successful in your dispute. If you’ve been the victim of identity theft or fraud, then you’ll want to ensure that you have the court documents and police reports that verify this fact.
File Your Dispute with the Credit Bureau
Finally, you’ll want to file your dispute with the credit bureau. Every credit reporting agency has a link that allows you to dispute items on your report. You’ll need to identify the specific credit report entry that you’re disputing. You’ll also need to be sure to file a dispute with each credit reporting agency. That’s why it’s important to check all three of your reports for the major credit reporting agencies. You’ll also want to be sure to follow up on your dispute. If the credit report agency grants your dispute then you should check to verify that the harmful information you challenged is actually removed from your credit report.
Disputing your credit report can sometimes feel like a tedious process if you don’t know how to go about it. So, in this FAQ, your most common questions about the matter most especially in dealing with different types of negative information are answered at length.
For your convenience, we have divided it into six parts:
- Managing Negative Information on your Credit Report
- The Effects of Disputes on your Credit Score
- Negative Information and your Credit Report
- The Credit Bureaus and the Dispute Process
- Disputing Different Information on your Report
Managing Negative Information on your Credit Report
To help you better manage negative information, below are the most frequently asked questions on the matter including whether or you can or cannot dispute something.
What should I dispute on my credit report?
Should I dispute credit report online?
Should I dispute closed accounts on credit report?
Can you pay off a charge off?
Can you dispute a charge off on your credit report?
Can you dispute hard inquiries?
Does disputing credit report work?
Yes. Many people are assigned to work on disputes, and a lot of online threads have been dedicated to talking about the results of their disputes.
How hard is it to dispute credit report?
The process is actually very easy because, in essence, you only need two things: a letter stating what and why you are disputing and proof that they should remove/modify it. The length of the process is consumed by waiting for the credit bureau’s response.
The Effects of Disputes on your Credit Score
Most people believe that removing negative information on your report automatically raises your score, but that is not always the case.
Can you dispute credit score?
No. As it is not public information how exactly your credit score is computed, it is impossible to successfully dispute it in the first place.
Can disputing hurt your credit?
No, it does not. What will affect your credit is having items removed on your credit report, not disputing itself.
Will disputing items on credit report raise my score?
Generally, your score should increase after you have corrected or removed negative information on your report. However, there are a few cases of decrease as the removal of certain items negatively affected other factors in calculating your score.
Will disputing items on credit report restart statute limitations?
No, disputing does not reset the statute of limitations. And in the same way, it does not stop it. Only a payment can do so.
What happens when you dispute your credit report?
When the dispute is not yet resolved, the item involving it would not be included in your FICO score and would instead be marked as XB. That status would then be removed or retained, depending on the investigation of the credit bureau.
Why did my credit score drop after a dispute?
Most common with closed accounts, successfully removing them from your report affects the average age of accounts as well as your credit utilization rate. Those, in turn, result in a decrease in your credit score.
Negative Information and your Credit Report
Negative information stays on your report for a long time. The good news is, its effect on your credit score decreases over time.
Is it true that after 7 years your credit is clear?
No, your credit report does not become a clean slate every seven years. After a negative information is listed on your report, it will be seven years before it is removed.
How long does it take for a dispute to be removed from your credit report?
It is removed as soon as it is resolved, whether in your favor or not. Credit bureaus have 30 days from its receipt of request to resolve it, so it should be removed in that amount of time as well.
How long does it take to remove negative information off credit report?
Generally, it takes seven years. However, for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it will take 10 years.
Does a charge off go away after 7 years?
Yes. The start of that 7 years is the original delinquency date.
How long does a dispute stay on credit report?
A dispute does not have any merit on your credit report whatsoever. It is only a method by which you can report and alter/remove information on your report.
The Credit Bureaus and the Dispute Process
Credit bureaus are at center stage with disputes as they manage and investigate them. In this section, you’ll learn about every process of filing a dispute as well as other related matters in which the credit bureau is in charge of.
What are the mailing addresses for the 3 credit bureaus?
Equifax Information Services, LLC, PO Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374
TrasnUnion, LLC Consumer Dispute Center, PO Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022
Experian’s National Consumer Assistance Center, PO Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013
How to write a credit dispute letter?
Your letter should note each item you are disputing, legitimate reasons you’re disputing them, and a request to have it removed. The Federal Trade Commission has a very easy-to-follow sample letter here.
How to file a dispute with the credit bureau?
Once you have created a letter, include a copy of your credit report (with the items in question highlighted) as well as supporting documents. After you have sent it, you only have to wait for the result.
How long does a credit dispute take?
While the credit bureau should resolve the case within 30 days, the actual legwork on your part can be as short as 30 minutes because you only need to write a letter and compile all the necessary documentation.
Who do I call to dispute my credit report?
You need to call any of the three major credit bureaus as well as the information provider. They are responsible for ensuring that all information in your credit report is accurate.
Do online credit disputes work?
Yes. Unfortunately, it’ not yet as sophisticated as the “traditional” way. That’s why along with your online dispute, you are still encouraged to send a copy of your letter by mail.
How often can you dispute something on your credit report?
You can dispute as many items as often as you like. However, if you’re going to dispute the same item twice, you should include new information and evidence that will help them rethink their previous decision.
How to cancel a dispute on credit report?
If you are removing it to apply for a loan, ask the creditor with which credit bureau they checked with. With TransUnion, you can easily cancel it by phone. With Equifax, you need to write a letter. However, with Experian, there is no way to cancel a dispute.
Disputing Different Information on your Report
The process may be the same for all disputes whether by mail or online, but they would require different supporting evidence from you.
How to dispute personal information on credit report?
The good thing with disputing personal information is it’s so easy to produce the proof you need (birth certificate, bills, etc). You only need to go through the same process as with disputing any negative information on your report.
How to dispute a judgment on credit report?
You can only have a judgment removed under these three conditions: a) the debt has been paid, b) the debt isn’t yours, and c) the statute of limitations has expired. Else, you should not try to dispute it because you won’t succeed.
How to dispute a paid collection on credit report?
You can’t dispute a collection even if it has been paid already. What you can do instead is contact your creditor or the collections agency and ask them to remove the item from your report.
How to dispute multiple items on credit report?
Simply send the letter stating the multiple items you’re disputing. It is actually more efficient this way instead of sending a separate letter for each dispute.
How to dispute wrong information on credit report?
Simply point out what the wrong information is and send supporting documents on your correction. For example, if the address on your credit report is incorrect, simply show proof of the correct one such as utility bills.
How to dispute bankruptcy on credit report?
A bankruptcy, as well as the accounts included in it, can stay on your credit report for 10 years. However, if it already has been that long, you can easily dispute it to a credit bureau by simply presenting the credit report as evidence and other documents to ensure approval.
How to dispute credit report and win?
As they investigate every dispute, you should make it easy for them to swing in your favor. Create a dispute letter stating which entries on your report you wish to dispute along with supporting evidence and documents then send it to the credit reporting company and information provider.
How to dispute credit report online?
Download your most recent credit report first, and make a letter regarding your request regarding the item/s you are disputing to the website of the credit bureaus. If you do not like the response you got, you can send an appeal letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
How to dispute items on credit report?
First, identify the items you want to have removed/modified and why they deserve such action. Then, create a letter to the credit bureau and the information provider which itemize your disputes, and send them via mail or online.
How to dispute credit inquiries?
Soft credit inquiries don’t have to be disputed at all as they don’t have an effect on your credit score. As for hard inquiries, the process is pretty much the same as with other wrong information on your credit report.
How to dispute student loans on credit report?
Aside from disputing items on your report, you can also contact your creditor about this error. Even after informing you that they have corrected it, still follow up with the credit bureau to make sure.
How to dispute collections on credit report?
If it’s not your collection, it has been seven years, or if your debt has been sold to another collections agency, it’s a sure win case. Just follow the procedure to get it removed, and you’re good to go.
How to dispute an eviction on credit report?
If the information there is valid, you can’t remove it from your account. Otherwise, you can follow the regular process of filing for a dispute.
How to dispute credit score?
You can’t dispute your credit score. What you can dispute are items on your report that may increase or decrease it.
How to dispute late payments on credit report?
If you didn’t really do it, you only need to contact your creditor so they can correct it for you. Confirm too with the credit bureaus if the item has been removed already. However, if you really were late, the best you can do is ask your creditor nicely and promise not to do it again.
How to dispute medical bills on credit report?
Fortunately, medical bills are weighed less heavily on your credit score in FICO 9. If you want to remove it from your report, you need to gather as much evidence as you can including checks, old credit card statements, and payment records from the doctor. However, if your debt has already been transferred to a collections agency, treat it as a collection.
How to dispute credit score online?
Whether online or by mail, you cannot dispute your credit score. Your credit report, however, can be disputed online.
How do I get a charge off removed from my credit report?
Negotiate with your original creditor (not the company they may have sold your debt to) to agree to remove the charge off, and get the agreement in writing. In this case, your best leverage is payment.
Credit and credit reports are important. Don’t let creditors and credit reporting bureaus make your life harder with harmful and inaccurate information. Use dispute letters and verification requests to challenge negative information on your credit report. It’s your right under the law. After all, without this ability, any company can say you owe them money and start collecting.
You work hard for your money. Don’t let someone else take it to pay off a debt you don’t actually owe. Use credit dispute letters and verification dispute letters to their greatest effect. It can save you thousands of dollars in interest every year. It can also determine whether important things like jobs and housing go your way.
Emma has been helping people improve their credit scores for the past ten years. Prior to that, she worked as a credit repair specialist and consultant for several large credit repair firms. She got into the credit repair industry after graduating with a degree in Finance before getting her MBA.