As we’ve mentioned time and time again, your credit report is incredibly important1, and you should always take care to maintain your report. Your credit report and your credit score can have an impact on your ability to get approved for credit, affect employment opportunities, housing decisions, and more. When monitoring your credit report most sources will advise you to dispute errors you find on your report, but for those who aren’t as savvy with credit reporting this could be a confusing task. Here’s some important information you should know about disputing errors on your credit report.
When to Dispute
The first step in understanding filing disputes on your credit report is knowing how to recognize when you should file a dispute.2 Creditors usually report information on your account to credit reporting agencies (such as Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) once a month, and you should monitor your report just as often. When considering disputes, you should look for any negative marks that appear on your report. This could include things such as late payments, accounts in collections, or defaults. You should also keep an eye on your reported account balances. If any of this information is incorrect or does not belong to you, it could be wrongfully hurting your score. This is when you should file a dispute requesting the information either be updated to reflect the correct information or be removed from your report altogether.
How to File Disputes
There are a couple ways you can file a dispute for something on your credit report.3 The first option you have is to raise the dispute directly with the creditor in question. To do so, contact the creditor in writing to let them know the information you believe to be incorrect and request they send you validation of your debt, which is what they must provide as proof the information is correct and valid. The second option you have when filing a dispute is to do so through the credit reporting agency. Each agency has a form you can fill out to file a dispute which can be filled out either online or through the mail. On this form you can usually indicate what you’re disputing, the reason you’re disputing it, and include any other information you think would be important. Be sure to give as much detail as possible to help build your case. The credit bureau will then contact the creditor in question and will request validation of debt on your behalf. You’ll have to file a separate dispute with each credit bureau and, once filed, decisions on a dispute are provided within 45 days.
Once a review of your dispute has been completed there are a few different outcomes that can occur.4 If the creditor can provide debt validation showing the debt is accurate and belongs to you, nothing changes. The mark will remain on your credit report and, if applicable, collection efforts can continue. On the other hand, if the creditor does not, or is not able to, provide debt validation they cannot continue to collect on the debt and must remove any mark from your credit report. There is a bit of middle ground, however, in a situation where the debt is deemed valid and as belonging to you, but it includes some incorrect information. When this happens, the information will be corrected on your report, and collection efforts can continue for the correct balance.
For more information on credit reporting, how it works, and how to build good credit, check out the Credit Score section of our blog.
1Akin, Jim. (2020, Nov 18). Retrieved from: https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/why-is-a-credit-report-important/
2Irby, LaToya. (2022, Sept 23). Retrieved from: https://www.thebalancemoney.com/dispute-credit-report-errors-960452
3Hipp, Deb. (2023, Jan 26). Retrieved from: https://www.creditkarma.com/credit-cards/i/dispute-error-credit-report
4Akin, Jim. (2023, Feb 16). Retrieved from: https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-disputing-information-on-your-credit-report-affects-your-credit/