A study by the Federal Trade Commission discovered that one in five Americans had a mistake on either of their credit card reports. Considering that the three major credit reporting companies deal with files relating to more than 220 million people, errors are inevitable. These errors can have significant impacts on your credit score.
You might need to have the negative items on your report removed for a better score. The process of disputing a credit report is overwhelming, yet, it is necessary for your future credit standing.
Do you know how to dispute a credit report? If no, you need to check this guide out.
Review the Reports to Check for Errors
The primary credit reporting bureaus are Transunion, Equifax, and Experian. You can request your credit report through the AnnualCreditReport.com from the three bureaus. Each of these bureaus provides a free credit report once a year.
It’s possible to identify slight differences in the reports as some creditors might not have reported your credit activities to the three agencies. However, you should check if a negative report is on all the reports. Be keen on errors that conflict your identity or hurt your credit scores.
Some of the errors that make one dispute a credit report includes;
- Errors on personal information such as name and phone number
- Wrong account status
- Inaccuracy in the loan balances and credit limits
- Being attributed to an account you don’t own
- Incorrect account balances
- A remedied delinquency that’s still reported as negative
- Reports on a closed account
- Incorrect account labels
- Listing of an account more than once
- Multiple debt listing
- Being reported as an account owner while you’re only the account’s authorized user
Negative reports have adverse implications on your pursuit of a loan, employment, or insurance. As such, you can’t afford to ignore an error regardless of how insignificant it appears. You might be a victim of identity theft!
Inform the Credit Bureau
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it is essential to contact the bureau that listed the error. Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax have a provision for these disputes, either by mail or online. Explain in writing about the error, provide your contact details, and have supporting documents.
These agencies have tabs on their websites showing how to dispute a credit report. The process on the site is arguably the easiest when disputing the errors. However, you can decide to write a letter or call.
It would also help to keep copies of documentation or letters you send. Certified mails can be an ideal way of sending a letter to either of the agencies as you’ll have a return receipt. Whichever approach you take, be sure to have proof to avert future conflicts.
Contact the Furnisher
Furnishers are the companies that provide your details to credit agencies. Legally, a furnisher should give notice within 30 days of sending negative information or before furnishing. If you didn’t get the notice, you could contact the furnisher to get more clarity.
You can request a furnisher to correct the reporting errors even before mailing the credit bureau. The bureau will then communicate with the company involved to address the issue. Contact the credit bureau if you’re unable to resolve the problem at this point.
Wait for the Credit Bureau to Investigate and Report
After receiving your credit report dispute, the credit report bureau has about 30 days to investigate. The agency is also mandated to respond to you within five days after completing the investigation. A furnisher should also send a report to you after 30 days of investigation.
The credit bureau can rule your dispute as frivolous if you’ve provided inadequate proof disputing the report. Your dispute might also be contested if you have been sending the item several times without giving any new information.
If the credit reporting bureau agrees that your report has a fault, it will remove the wrong item and send a new report. You can further request the bureau to send a correct version of the report to anyone who recently received the information, probably a potential employer or lender.
Review Your Investigation Results
Credit bureaus often provide the investigation in writing. You might need to contact a lawyer to dispute credit reports if you’re getting unsatisfactory reports from the credit reporting bureau. Provide your attorney with the written investigation report to follow up on your behalf.
Despite knowing how to dispute a credit report, the results are not always in your favor. The furnisher might insist the information provided is accurate. In unresolved disputes, request the credit agencies to have a statement on your credit file showing the disagreement.
You might want to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to file your complaint if the results are not convincing. In 15 days, you’ll have a response from CFPB.
Check for Credit Report Updates
If the disputed item on a credit report is approved, your credit reports should show. However, the updates on disputed accounts take time to reflect. The update will depend on a furnisher’s time to send new information and an agency’s update cycle.
You’ll have to contact the credit bureau if you don’t see the updates after a few months. Given the volume of disputes that the agency receives in a month, having timely updates can be a challenge. Keep following up to rectify the problem as soon as possible.
Knowing How to Dispute a Credit Report Is Crucial
Errors on your credit reports can mess your credit score. If you know how to dispute a credit report, you can save yourself unnecessary frustrations. It would be best to familiarize yourself with some of the possible errors in a credit report to prepare if you need to dispute.
The process of disputing a credit report takes time. You’ll have to be persistent to get the mistake cleared. Addressing the errors will have a significant impact on your credit health.
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