How to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report
Your credit score is one of the most important numbers as far as your finances go. It dictates the rates you get when borrowing a personal loan or line of credit. But it doesnâ€™t stop there; it may have sway over your next job, apartment, or auto insurance policy.
When it has so much power over your life, finding an error on your credit report is scary. Something outside your control could impact your score and stand in the way of getting a loan or a new job.
With this in mind, itâ€™s prudent you act fast as soon as you spot something wrong.
Hereâ€™s what to do if you find an error on your credit report:
Start a Dispute
Each of the three major credit reporting agencies makes it easy to file a dispute. You can go online to start, or you may send a letter in the mail. In either case, you must tell them (in writing) what information is inaccurate.
Equifax: Submit a dispute online
Experian: Disputes online
TransUnion: Start a new dispute
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you have a right to contest any entry in your report. This means a major credit reporting agency must accept and investigate any complaints filed over inaccurate information.
What Do You Need to Send?
Before submitting your online dispute or letter, you need to make sure you can prove that inaccurate information doesnâ€™t belong to your file.
Check-in with this list to make sure you have everything you need.
Youâ€™ll need to share identifying information like your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number (SSN) to create an inquiry.
Youâ€™ll need to explain clearly what items are inaccurate. The Federal Trade Commission recommends enclosing a copy of your report with the wrongful items highlighted.
Perhaps the most important part of your dispute is proof. It can make or break your investigation. Make sure you send anything that supports your case. This may include emails from financial institutions acknowledging payments or a personal loan or line of credit report statement. Just make sure you send copies only, so you can keep the originals for your files.
Send a Copy of Your Dispute to Your Furnisher
A furnisher is a company that supplied your reporting agency with the faulty information. One example is your personal loan or line of credit report financial institution. Or it could be a utility provider or cell phone carrier.
It may take a reporting agency between 30 and 45 days to complete their investigation. After this, theyâ€™ll let you know their verdict within another five days.
If they donâ€™t agree with you, theyâ€™ll explain why. If itâ€™s because your dispute is frivolous, it means you didnâ€™t send enough proof to show the items are inaccurate.
If they agree that the items are inaccurate, theyâ€™ll reach out to the financial institution that furnished them with the information in the first place. This may take another month or so before you see changes in your report.
All in all, it can take a while before your report goes back to normal. With this in mind, itâ€™s key to send your dispute off as quickly as possible. Follow these tips above and visit IdentityTheft.gov. These resources will help you handle your error to the best of your ability.