Credit Report Disputes
Credit Scores and Disputes
Your credit score is important. It can effect whether you are denied credit for a home or car loan, can cause higher interest rates, effects auto insurance prices and can even effect whether you will be hired for a job. Given that it can affect some many everyday things, it is crucial that the information be correct.
Once per year you can get a free credit report from the three major credit bureaus by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. According to John Ulzeimer, president of SmartCredit.com, “96 percent of free reports go unclaimed.” If you are not checking your reports you will be unaware of errors that may be costing you money.
Disputing errors however is no easy feat. If you find an error here are the steps to take:
- File a dispute: Dispute the error with the credit reporting agency directly. If it is incorrect on all three reports then you need to dispute it with all three bureaus. This can be done online or by mail. However, if it is a major mistake mail may be the better way to go so that you can explain the error and the negative impact and include supporting documents. Online there is no option to provide a narrative explanation. Keep documentation of the dispute. Make copies of everything you send and send it certified with return receipt requested so that you have documentation for your records that the dispute was in fact received.
- The credit bureau then has 30 days to investigate. They usually begin this process by contacting the creditor to see if the information is correct. If the credit agrees the information is wrong, the information will be corrected. If the creditor says the information is accurate, the information remains on your credit. If a creditor does not respond within 30 days, then the information is supposed to be removed.
- If this attempt to dispute is unsuccessful you can try again but the outcome will only be different if you provide different information. The next step then is to dispute it directly with the creditor. If they are convinced by you that the reported information is in error, then the information should be corrected. Again, mail may be better so that a paper trail exists as proof of the dispute however this usually can be done by phone as well.
- If all else fails, hire an attorney. Sometimes all that is required is a letter from a law firm demanding that the information be corrected.