How to Dispute Inaccurate Information on Your
Having good credit is more important than ever, which means the constant care and maintenance of an accurate credit history is absolutely necessary. Consumers should check their credit reports often not only to combat identity theft, but also to make sure the three national credit bureaus are reporting their credit data accurately. For example, inaccurately reported credit information, especially inaccurate late payments or past due accounts, can drag down your credit score, hurting your loan eligibility and your chances at receiving lower loan rates. However, inaccurate information does not have to stay on your credit report. There are steps you as a consumer can take to dispute inaccurate information.
All three of the major national credit bureau systems offer online dispute processes on their web sites. According to the web sites of two of the three bureaus, in order to submit an online dispute, you must first purchase your credit report from that specific bureau and provide an order confirmation number as proof. However, that may not always be the best way to file a dispute, and it is not necessarily the method suggested by the Federal Trade commission (FTC).
According to the FTC, disputing by mail may be the best way to dispute items in your report. This is for a variety of reasons. When you write to the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), or the three national credit bureaus, you can, and should, attach copies of supporting documents for items you want to dispute. If you have a copy of your credit report, it is also recommended to include a copy of the credit report with the information in dispute circled. In your letter, each item being disputed should be clearly identified. Your reasons for disputing should be just as clear.
It is recommended that you send your letter and documents by certified mail to the credit bureaus, and you request a return receipt. This is so you can document and track when the credit bureaus received your dispute information. The national credit bureaus are obliged to investigate your claim within 30 days, unless your dispute is deemed frivolous. The bureaus must also provide the information provider (credit card company, mortgage lender, etc.) whose information is being disputed with all relevant information pertaining to the dispute. If the information provider determines the disputed information is incorrect, it is responsible for notifying the credit bureaus and reporting accurate information.
When the reinvestigation ends, the credit bureaus have further obligations to uphold. The credit reporting agencies must provide you with the results of their investigation in writing, and if the dispute results in a change or modification to your credit report, the bureaus are also required to provide you with an updated copy of the disputed item. If a dispute involves incomplete information, CRAs are required to complete it; accounts disputed that are found to belong to someone else must be deleted from your credit file.
There are additional requests consumers can make of credit reporting agencies. For instance, if you ask, the credit bureaus are required to notify anyone who received a copy of your credit report in the prior six months, and to report to them the corrections made on your report. Consumers can also request that corrections be sent to anyone who previously ordered your credit report for employment reasons up to two years prior.
Disputing inaccurate information on your credit report is certainly not a fun process, but in the interest of better credit, it is definitely worth it.