Disputing Wrong Information on your Credit Report
A key part of maintaining good credit is regularly reviewing your credit reports. You are entitled to one free report, per year, from each credit bureau. Details on how to get a copy of that free report are available, here.
Another key part of maintaining good credit is disputing inaccurate information on your credit report. Wrong or incorrect information on your report can damage your credit history and score. This can lead to denials of credit, increased interest rates, increased insurance premiums, slowed or stunted credit score growth and improvement, or a massive reduction in your credit score. The way to build a solid and secure credit score is the regular monitoring of your reports and properly disputing inaccurate information.
How to Dispute Inaccurate Information on your Report
You can do this! Everyone can easily dispute inaccurate or misleading information that's present on your report. You don't need to sign up for an expensive service or pay someone. Save your hard-earned dollars and do the disputes yourself. Disputes can be made in a few different ways:
The best way to dispute inaccurate information is to send a written dispute to each credit bureau that has inaccurate information on your report. There is no “magic” language that you need to include: just identify the inaccurate information and explaining why it is wrong. You'll also need to provide copies of identity (like a recent utility bill, drivers license, and social security number) so that the credit bureau can properly locate your file and verify your dispute. Be sure to include any documentation (evidence) that supports your position that the information is inaccurate.
You can also call the credit bureaus and dispute the inaccurate information. This method isn't as good – because you don't have a “paper trail” of your dispute. If the credit bureaus mess up your dispute (and allow the wrong information to remain on your report) your documentation of the dispute won't exist in writing. This doesn't mean you can't make your dispute over the phone, but we recommend making the dispute in writing.
We strongly suggest you not make your disputes online. The details you can provide are often limited. The information you can provide is often limited, which can impact your ability to properly convey the nature and extent of the dispute. The limited “forms” provided by the credit bureaus can harm the quality of your dispute. A simple letter to the credit bureaus is far better.
What Happens after my Dispute?
After your dispute to the credit bureaus, you'll have to wait a little bit for the results. Your dispute triggers an obligation for the credit bureaus to investigate the dispute, contact the company (if applicable) furnishing the wrong information to your report, and then convey the results of that investigation to you.
We call the results of the dispute process your “dispute results.” These results will be mailed to you within 30 days (or 45 days, depending on a few details) from when your dispute was received. We recommend sending the written disputes via certified mail so that you can track when they're received.
How to Read the Dispute Results
Reading and understanding the dispute results can be confusing – often it's unclear what exactly happened. That's why we always offer free consultations to review those dispute results. There are several outcomes from your disputes:
- Incorrect information is removed
- Incorrect information remains
- Information is changed and is now accurate
- Information is changed and is still inaccurate
It is frustrating when incorrect remains after your written dispute. This could be evidence that your rights have been violated under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. It may even mean that you could sue the credit bureaus (and the company that placed the wrong information on your report). We often take these cases on a contingency basis and would be happy to discuss your options in a free consultation.
What if have Written Multiple Disputes?
Many people have filed several written disputes and been unable to remove the incorrect information from their reports. This wrong information may be impacting a home loan, interest rates, and other financial decisions. This is the scenario that the Fair Credit Reporting Act was designed to protect and may entitle the harmed consumer to damages. Don't give up if this has happened. Schedule a free consultation to review your reports, dispute results, and understand if you may have a case.