How to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report
The recent Equifax data breach may have been tossed aside as “old news” in the media, however, identity theft happens every day and concerns should not fall by the wayside.
According to a survey conducted by credit.com, one in five consumers who read their credit reports discover an error. With hackers being more skilled than ever, it’s important to obtain your annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
The following are steps on finding and disputing errors on your credit report. Once you identify any issues, you will be able to work on getting them resolved timely, especially if you think you may have become a victim of identity theft.
Obtain Your Credit Report
Without obtaining a copy of your credit report, you won’t know if it contains any errors. Retrieving your credit report is very simple. You can get a free, online credit report from annualcreditreport.com from each bureau once per year. If you prefer, you may also contact each credit reporting agency by phone as well, however, you may have to wait up to 2 weeks before you receive it in the mail. By requesting your credit report online, you can download and print your report immediately. Keep in mind, these free credit reports do not include your credit score. If you want to obtain your credit score, your credit card company may offer it as a perk or you can subscribe to Credit Karma or Credit Sesame for free.
Review Credit Report for Errors
If you find an error on your credit report, your next step can be determined by the type of error it is. For example, if there is a late payment that has been reported, you may want to contact your credit card company or loan provider as it may be easily resolved by contacting them directly. If you cannot resolve the error through your provider, then you should file a dispute.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires creditors to respond within 30-45 days in most cases. The creditor will note the information as “disputed” on your credit report until the investigation is complete. At that time, they must report their findings to you and to the credit bureaus. If you receive documentation from the creditor, you may want to submit it to the credit reporting agencies directly to ensure a timely update. If you have difficulty contacting the creditor, or if you aren’t sure where the inaccuracy originated, dispute it with one of the three credit reporting agencies. You may file your dispute online or you may contact TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian by phone or mail. Provide as much documentation as possible as it will expedite your dispute.
Is Your Dispute Valid?
Unless you file a “frivolous” dispute, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the credit bureau to investigate. A frivolous dispute may constitute the following:
- Not providing enough information for the investigation of the dispute.
- Your dispute is a “blanket” dispute of everything listed in your credit file prepared by a credit repair company service or using credit repair service forms.
- You request a re-investigation of the same item recurrently but do not have any new facts to support your claim.
During this process, the agency may or may not note the information as “disputed” in your credit file. Once the agency forwards all pertinent information to the creditor, the creditor must verify the information in a timely manner and correct any inaccuracies with all three credit reporting agencies.
How Long Do Dispute Investigations Take?
Depending on the credit reporting agency and the creditor, disputes can take up to 45 days to complete. During this time, you may experience delays or other difficulty getting a loan, mortgage, or another credit account. It’s important to stay on top of your dispute and check on the status during your review period.
Your credit report errors affect your credit score. Your FICO credit score becomes very important whenever you take out a new loan or line of credit. You’ll want as high a credit score as possible. Credit report inaccuracies may affect your score, especially if they indicate a higher debt or reflect late payments.
Disputing incorrect information is a vital part of the credit repair process.It’s extremely important to continually check and monitor your credit report to catch errors sooner than later.
How were you able to resolve your credit report errors? Comment below. Tayne Law group always appreciates feedback from our readers!