How to Dispute Your Credit Bureau Report
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.
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.