How to Dispute a Credit Report

Disputing a credit report is a detailed process, but it can be easily accomplished with a little hard work and perseverance. Most people attempt to dispute their report, because they have found that adverse credit items are preventing them from having good credit. Without good credit, it is very difficult to get a loan, buy a car, and get a credit card. To know how badly your credit is and what you are up against, you need to order a tri-merge credit report. All three of the major credit bureaus will offer a tri-merge report.

A tri-merge report can be a little more expensive than a regular credit report, but it is essential in order to improve your credit and clearing your good name once and for all. This report combines your total credit history from all three of the major credit bureaus which include Experian, Transunion and Equifax. You can pull your 3 credit reports for free through, which is your legal right as a consumer. If you have already used your free reports for the year you will have to use another service, such as, CreditKarma or CreditSesame. For a few dollars more, scores from all three bureaus can be obtained along with the credit history report. When disputing your credit, it is vital to have all three of these reports as each could be drastically different from the others, and you'll be forced to create your disputes for specific accounts listed under specific credit bureaus.

Each of the credit reporting agencies will have variations in how they want credit items disputed, but generally most provisions are the same. When you order a credit report, it generates a number code that you will need in order to submit a dispute. The disputes can be submitted online, or through United States mail.  A dispute will take less time to process if it is submitted online. 

In a dispute, you will list the item that is wrong on your credit report, the account number, and the reason that you are disputing the item. The credit bureau will then submit the dispute to the original creditor to verify your claim. The creditor has thirty days to respond on whether the information is being reported accurately or not.  If they fail to send a response, then the item will be automatically deleted from your credit report.

Every discrepancy can make a big difference on your credit score, so all items no smaller how small they may seem should be disputed if they are incorrect.  Items to dispute include incorrect balances, items that show unpaid when they are, items that don't show as included in bankruptcy if you have filed, and items may belong to a former spouse that could be adversely effecting your credit report. 

Many people even dispute negative items that are actually correct, because of the response loophole in the system. Since creditors have to have proof that a negative listing is correct when you dispute it, you have the perfect opportunity to get it removed if it is an old account. Creditors only keep records for so long, so chances are that they may not have the proof that they need to determine the debt as valid. This is a winning situation for you, because every negative item that is deleted from your report will improve your credit score.

If you are sending your dispute through the mail, be sure to handwrite the dispute. Even though we are in a technological age, and most people use the computer to generate letters and documents, the credit reporting agencies frown on the dispute if it looks like it is professionally completed. This is due to the many scams that are online where companies promise people great credit scores.

The fact of the matter is that no one can improve your credit rating but you. If you handwrite the dispute, this shows the credit reporting agencies that you really care about your credit, and that you are honestly trying to make it right. After their dispute investigation is complete, they will send you a results report.

You will have to dispute your credit reports with each individual agency, because they do not share information. Credit reporting agencies operate as private entities, but are under strict regulations from the government, and must fully adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Each negative item will remain on your credit report by law for seven years.  After that time, it is deleted from your credit file.

After your dispute has been submitted, all you have to do is set back and wait for a response. The odds are in your favor to have at least some of the items removed simply because not all companies can prove the debt exists, so it is well worth the effort and time to dispute the report. Never dispute your credit report more than once per year, because the credit agencies will deem the disputes as frivolous if they are submitted to often.

Everyone should pull their credit history frequently. Most people find errors, because after a certain amount of time companies stop reporting on the debt. This means that even though you might have paid if off, the credit report will not reflect that. Identity theft is also a problem, so you will want to make sure that your credit file has not been accessed without your permission. Repeat the dispute process yearly until every item that you believe should be removed is gone.  

Find out more about removing negative items from your credit report here.


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