Disputing an item on your credit report is an undertaking that requires careful thought and planning—and even the most conscientious consumers might find themselves a bit overwhelmed. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus and lenders are required to investigate the validity of a disputed item on a credit report. However, even with that regulation protecting you as the consumer, there are few standard guidelines in place for disputing something on your credit report. We’ve compiled some of the top dos and don’ts of disputing credit errors, so you can avoid some of the major pitfalls involved.
DO submit your dispute to the credit bureau.
You may choose to dispute the error directly with the lender or business that allegedly reported it to the credit bureau. That’s a smart move, but should only be done in conjunction with a dispute to the credit bureau. If you only submitted your dispute to the lender, you run the risk of the lender refusing to remove the item—and then you’re stuck. It’s better to have a record of a formal dispute with the credit bureau.
DON’T throw away your paperwork.
Keep a record, including all originals, of the error and all of the documents supporting your position. For instance, if you have received denials of loans based on the information in your credit report, print out and save a copy of the denials. A credit bureau or lender can always claim to have lost your paperwork—but as long as you have held onto the originals, you will always be prepared to supply the evidence they require.
DO submit credit reports via snail mail.
Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to submit a dispute of an item on your credit report. The three major credit bureaus now offer online portals created specifically so you can submit the dispute and track its progress in real time. But you don’t want to be lulled into a false sense of security, believing the process to be an “easy” one. It’s probably to the credit bureaus’ benefit to provide consumers the ability to submit their disputes online—after all, there is only so much space allotted for you to plead your case. Then they can always claim they didn’t have enough information to investigate your dispute. You can head off that outcome by taking the old-fashioned route and typing your letter up to send through certified mail. Sure, it might take longer, but at least you can be sure that you have fully explained the error. The more details and evidence you can provide in support of your case, the better.
DO determine if it’s an identity-related error.
This is a case when it’s best to take up your claim directly with the credit bureau. It’s also a good idea to check the reports on the other credit bureaus to make sure the error hasn’t shown up on their reports as well. Although these types of errors are an inconvenience, they are also the most likely to be removed.
DON’T lose hope if the credit bureau denies your dispute.
Credit bureaus are allowed to deem certain disputes “frivolous,” if the consumer doesn’t provide enough proof or the information provided on the dispute is incomplete or inaccurate. In that case, the bureau must notify you that it has no duty to investigate the situation, along with its reasoning for determining the dispute frivolous. Even if that happens to you, you can still resubmit your dispute, but carefully reconsider your approach. It may be that your previous dispute was missing critical pieces of evidence that could be pivotal in your case. Either way, never resubmit a dispute with all of the same information that was already rejected. It’s a recipe for disaster.
DO consider asking for information about credit disputes to be added to your credit report.
This is another benefit of disputing directly with the credit bureau. If the dispute doesn’t end up in your favor, you can still request that the bureau add a statement to your report indicating the item has been in dispute. That way, you can demonstrate to potential creditors that you are actively trying to improve your credit.
Credit disputes aren’t easy, which is why so many consumers are leaning on credit repair firms like Ovation Credit to help them navigate the process of fixing their credit. We want to make this process as painless and stress-free as possible. Let us lend you a helping hand when you’re trying to rebuild your credit. Our team of professionals will walk you through the credit report review and champion your cause with the credit bureaus.