Before you set up a plan on how to dispute credit report errors, it's important to mention that No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. There is no fee for the investigation and It doesn't cost anything to question or dispute items in your report.
If you were recently denied credit because of information in your credit report, you have the right to request a free copy. Otherwise there is a small fee, unless your state law provides for one free report a year.
Considering the cost of bad credit, it just makes good sense to dispute and correct all negative entries in your credit report. Errors and inaccuracies that negatively impacting your credit scores, can lead to higher interest rates on loans and credit cards or denials for new credit.
After analyzing your credit report and carefully looking for and highlighting everything from typing errors, to outdated and incomplete information. The section labeled "Potentially Negative Items" or "Collection Agency Account Information" is where you want to focus most of your dispute energy. This is where a lot of your negative listing will reside.
This section contains items that creditors may view less favorably. It will include any collections, bankruptcy, lien and judgment. Listed will be the creditor's name and address, your account number (shortened for security), account status, type and terms of the account and any other information reported to the credit bureau by the creditor.
Your identity was stolen and the thief opened new accounts in your name.
Your existing account was stolen (for example, your credit card number was skimmed at a gas station machine) and the thief started using your card number.
Your bank or finance company made an error and reported a delinquency or default when it really didn’t happen.
A collection agency made an error and reported a collection item on debt that was never yours.
After you’ve obtained a copy of your Free Credit Reports review them carefully to identify any items that are negatively impacting your credit score and highlight everything you believe to be incorrect, inaccurate, errors or obsolete.
Things to look for include, inaccurate or outdated accounts, unauthorized inquiries, collection that are not yours, duplicate derogatory accounts and outdated or unknown public records and accounts listed as “settled,” “paid derogatory”, “paid charge-off” or anything other than “current” or “paid as agreed” if you had in fact paid on time and in full.
If you find an error on your credit reports, start the dispute and resolution process by contacting the credit bureaus and the reporting organization (bank, collection agency, etc.) that provided the information. Both parties are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If your identity has been stolen, you will need to take some additional steps.
You can either complete the dispute form provided with your credit report or write a dispute letter. Tell the consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Clearly identify each mistake in your report that you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. It's recommended that you send a photocopy of your credit report with the mistakes circled. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position.
Once the credit bureau receives the dispute information from you, they will contact the creditors (the furnishing company) of the accounts you are disputing and request them to verify the information on your credit report. If the creditor does not verify the information within 30 days it will be removed from your credit report. However, if the account information is verified, it will not be removed.
Online: Experian Disputes
By phone: Phone number provided on credit report or (888) 397-3742
Mail: Use the address provided on your credit report or mail your letter to:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Online: TransUnion Disputes
By phone: (800) 916-8800
Mail the dispute form with your letter to:
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Contact all three, as the information each has may vary.
Recent studies show that as many as 80% of consumer credit files contain errors and inaccuracies. Chances are you might be 1 of those 80.
It is important to dispute inaccurate information with both the credit reporting company that created the report and the company that first reported the inaccurate information, often called the furnishing company.
Sending your dispute letter by certified mail and asking for a return receipt greatly increases your chance of a response and also helps you document what the credit bureau received.
Keep a record of when you sent the dispute letters and what date you should expect a response. This is very important because it gives you some leverage with the credit reporting companies in case they don't respond in the time frame required by law. Keep a record of when you sent the dispute letters and what date you should expect a response. If you have not received an answer to your dispute after 30 to 37 days, write the credit bureau with a certified return receipt letter, for an updated credit report demanding the disputed items be deleted. If the bureaus do not reply within the 30 days, it must be that the information was either inaccurate, or it could not be verified. In either case, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the items must be immediately deleted.
Consumers have found it possible to eliminate negative marks on credit reports simply by going through this process of disputing items over and over again. Since many creditors won't take the time to defend the negative item, eventually you can "repair" your credit through default by your creditor not responding to the credit bureaus request to verify the item. This commonly occurs. The creditors do not always have time to deal with a bothersome piece of paperwork and that is your advantage.
1. It is recommend that you use both the online disputing service provided by the credit bureaus and in writing. Record keeping and documentation is very important when it comes to credit repair.
2. In addition to online disputes and in writing, the credit bureau also gives you the option to call with your dispute. Calling the credit bureau with your dispute is something you never want to do, simply because you need to keep accurate time-stamped records during your dispute process.
If the credit reporting agency does not find an error, but you still believe your credit report is inaccurate, you can contact the creditor directly and try to straighten out the problem. When you resolve the dispute, ask the creditor to send a correction to the credit reporting agency.
Disputes by mail:You can download each Credit Bureaus dispute form, which provides the credit reporting company with enough information to identify you and the specific accounts that you are disputing. You may also wish to include copies of any supporting documentation, such as a statement from your lender, which demonstrates the incorrect information you are disputing.
If you mail a dispute, your dispute letter should include:
Contact information for you, including your complete name, address, and telephone number.
Credit report confirmation number, if available.
Each error you want fixed, including the account number for any account you may be disputing.
Clear explanation of why you are disputing the information.
Request that the information be removed or corrected.
To make it easier to identify the items that you are disputing, consider including a copy (not originals) of the portion of your credit report that contains the disputed items, with the disputed items circled or highlighted.
Research has shown that certain items are easier to remove than others
Items older than 2 years
Accounts that were late but are now paid off
The reason these items are easier to remove is simple, when you dispute an older account or an item that is now charged off, the creditor is not too concerned with the account any more. They may not even be able to find the necessary information to verify the dispute. Even if the account was once seriously past due, but now is paid off, they usually will not take the time to verify the dispute since they have already been paid.
Accounts that are currently past due
IRS or State Tax Liens
Current collection accounts
These are more difficult because creditors keep these types of accounts in their current files and they are expecting you to pay them. That is why it will be much easier for them to verify the information and keep the item on your credit file. However, it is always worth a try.
Important: It's illegal to dispute every item on your credit report. You are only allowed to dispute inaccurate information on your credit report.
Federal Laws require that the Credit Bureaus verify all disputes. If they are unable to verify your dispute, the law says it must be removed from your file.
Saying "Not Mine" is the number one thing NOT to say when disputing a negative account (unless it’s true).