The Complete Guide To Disputing Errors On Your Credit Report
Worried that your credit history may have errors that could negatively affect your business? Luckily, the companies that produce credit reports offer ways to dispute errors.
While it might be time-consuming to correct a report, a successful dispute can only be advantageous in the long run. A little time spent now could save you and your business from a major headache down the road—especially when applying for loans or credit cards.
Want to know how you can dispute a problem on your credit report? We’ve got all the information you need below.
Table of Contents
What Is A Credit Report?
A credit report details your credit history. It can include information regarding your past loan payments, current status of credit accounts, and other financial records, such as foreclosures or bankruptcies.
Credit bureaus compile credit reports by collecting and selling various data regarding individual credit histories. While there are numerous bureaus around today, three are the most well-known and influential: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. We’ve gone over credit bureaus in more depth before.
Credit reports play an important role when you are looking for a loan, a new credit card, or insurance. If you have a history of failing to make payments, or perhaps you have a lot of credit tied up already, potential creditors may think twice before working with you.
These reports also help calculate your credit score. A credit score is an important tool that summarizes the health of your credit history. Many potential lenders or credit card issuers will heavily consider your credit score when you apply. If your score is too low, you may need to work on improving it.
How To Get Your Credit Report
Fortunately, it doesn’t cost much to request a credit report. In fact, in many cases, you’ll be able to ask for a copy of your credit report for free.
Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax are legally required to issue you a no-cost credit report every 12 months. This free report will be your full credit report—although it won’t include credit scores. To request a report, you’ll need to visit annualcreditreport.com and select which of the three major bureaus you’d like to request a report from.
In addition, if you apply for credit and are denied, you’ll have the ability to request the credit report used in the decision. You’ll have 60 days to order this credit report from the bureau that supplied the report reviewed by the creditor. This type of report is known as an “adverse action credit report.” Going this route is free and does not count against your annual report tally.
On top of those free credit report options, there are websites dedicated to sharing details regarding your credit history. Some of the big websites include Credit Karma, WalletHub, and Credit Journey from Chase. Most of these websites are free and we’ve previously discussed our favorite ones. However, note that in many cases you can’t get a full credit report through these places; instead, they’ll likely share a credit score alongside some supplemental information.
How To Dispute Errors On Your Report
If you’ve spotted an error on your credit report—say you notice a misspelled name or an account that has been incorrectly deemed delinquent—the question comes up: how do you dispute errors on a report?
Here’s our step-by-step guide:
1. Contact The Credit Bureau
There are several ways to contact a credit bureau to submit a dispute.
Most commonly, you can send a letter. If you choose this path, include all the necessary documentation that supports your dispute. Additionally, clearly outline which item or items you dispute, state why you dispute the information, and make it obvious that you wish for the information to be removed or changed.
If sending a letter, make sure to send it via certified mail. This way you’ll have a record once it’s received, giving you a paper trail. Plus, it’s also a good idea to keep a copy of the letter for your personal records.
The three major credit bureaus also offer online tools to submit a dispute. However, this process varies for each bureau so you’ll need to check the website of the bureau you plan to submit a dispute with.
In some cases, sending a fax may be another option. Bureaus also often let you call to start a dispute claim. However, it is generally recommended to leave a paper trail when possible, something that may not be possible with a phone call.
2. Wait For And Review The Results Of The Investigation
In most cases, the credit bureau will have 30 days to investigate after receiving your dispute. You’ll then want to give them up to two weeks before their response reaches you. As such, you may need to wait up to 45 days before you hear anything from the credit bureau.
When the investigation is finished, the credit bureau will send you the results in writing. Additionally, you’ll also receive an updated credit report if the dispute is found accurate. This updated copy is free and does not count towards your one free annual report. You’ll also receive a copy of the name, address, and phone number of the provider that reported the erroneous information.
You may additionally ask that notifications of any corrections be sent out to anyone who has received a copy of your credit report in the previous six months. For employment purposes, you may also request that anyone who received a copy in the last two years be sent the updated report.
3. Check Your Reports For Changes
Several months after your dispute has been fixed by the credit bureau in question, you’ll want to make sure your actual reports have been updated. Note that the time a report updates may depend on the specific credit bureau’s update cycle and when the provider sends information to bureaus.
If you don’t see any changes to your reports from other bureaus, it is possible the provider did not report the update to other bureaus. Should this happen, you’ll want to inform the provider that you disputed an inaccurate item on your credit report. If the provider continues sending disputed information to other bureaus, they must note that the information has been disputed. Assuming your dispute is accurate, the provider must tell bureaus to delete or update the information in question.
As long as the provider verifies the accuracy of your dispute, the credit bureau cannot continue to place that information in your credit report. This means that future reports should show the updated information. It just may take several months for an updated report to become accurate.
It’s important you get an error fixed promptly when you spot one on your credit report. If you leave the error untouched, you may have difficulty applying for loans or credit cards. This in turn may impact your business’s ability to run smoothly and efficiently. As such, a successful dispute can only mean good things for your business in the future—even if the process does seem a bit cumbersome.