Are Some Credit Report Errors Easier to Fix?

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If you’re staring at an error on your credit report, you’ll be happy to know that you can file a dispute with the credit bureaus to have it removed. But be aware: Some errors are easier to resolve than others.

How Credit Report Disputes Work

The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles all consumers to dispute inaccurate information on their credit reports with the credit reporting agencies. (You can check your credit reports for errors for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and by viewing your free credit report summary each month, on Credit.com.)

You can typically file a dispute online or via a written letter; contact information can be found on a bureau’s website or the credit report in question. Once a dispute has been formally filed, the bureaus generally have 30 days to investigate your claim and remove the item, unless, of course, they believe the dispute to be frivolous. (You can go here to learn more about the dispute process.)

“In most cases disputes are completed within 10-14 business days, and often within just a few days,” Rod Griffin, director of public education at Experian, said in an email. However, “some issues may be more pervasive and take additional documentation,” he added. “Identity theft, for example, may require filing a police report and submitting it so that Experian can remove the information proactively from your credit history.”

And other issues — like a seemingly inaccurate credit card balance or an account status — may be readily resolved, simply because they’re errors in the first place, Griffin said.

“I hear from people who pay off an account and then check their credit report the next day expecting the status to have changed,” he explained. “It can take a full billing cycle for information to be updated, so it could simply be that the lender hasn’t yet updated the information with Experian. Anytime a change is made, such as paying off a balance or closing an account, you need to allow time for the updates to be made before assuming there is an error.”

Getting Disputes Resolved

If something is inaccurate, you can up the odds of removal by sending as much paperwork as possible verifying the error. (All three major credit reporting agencies currently allow consumers to upload supporting documentation when they file disputes online.) For instance, if a debt collection account is erroneously marked as outstanding, you may want to send along an invoice that shows you’ve paid. And, if you’re an identity theft victim, you can supply a copy of your Federal Trade Commission or FBI compliant along with your police report regarding the crime.

It can also help to be as specific as possible when describing the error in question.

‘”This is not right,’ for example, isn’t very helpful because it doesn’t explain exactly what is wrong,” Griffin said. Instead, he added, it would be more beneficial to say “the account is not mine,” “the payment was never late” or “the account is fraudulent.”

And, if you’re truly lost when it comes to getting an issue resolved or your credit report is riddled with errors, you may want to consider outside help. A good credit repair company will explain exactly what it can and cannot do on your behalf, will never guarantee a “100-point rise in your credit score” (this is illegal, in fact), and will never ask for payment until after you’ve received services from them. (You can learn more about how to pick a reputable credit repair company here.)

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What Do I Need to Dispute Things on My Credit Report?

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Here’s something you probably already know: You get a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You probably also know it’s important to regularly look at your credit reports to check them for accuracy. That’s the easy part — when it comes to fixing problems on your credit reports, things can get a little confusing.

If you find something on your credit report you believe to be incorrect — like a late payment mark when you know you paid your creditor on time — you can dispute the error with the credit bureau. Keep in mind that you’ll need to dispute each error individually and with each credit reporting agency. Sometimes the process can be time-consuming and tedious, but there are a few things that can help you succeed in correcting inaccurate or unfair information.

A Clearly Written Letter

Disputing an error on your credit report requires you to state what the error is and where it is on your credit report. Whether you’re writing a letter or filling out a dispute form online with the credit bureaus, make the explanation short and clear.

Evidence

Whether you’re disputing the error online or by mail, you’re encouraged to send copies of documents supporting your dispute. If you can’t find a bill or statement that might help you clarify your dispute in your own records, you may want to reach out to your creditor and see if they can provide the account information you need. In the case of an error that resulted from identity theft, you’ll want to provide a copy of the police report you filed. Here are some tips on dealing with identity theft.

Keep in mind that not all problems you might encounter with your credit reports are best addressed through the dispute process. Consumers have the right to ask questions of and negotiate with companies that supply information to the credit reporting agencies (aka, data furnishers), and familiarizing yourself with those rights can help you ensure your credit reports are a fair and accurate representation of your credit history. You can, of course, do this yourself for free, but that can sometimes be difficult and take a lot of time, so you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you fix your credit.

To stay on top of the information on your credit report and how it affects your credit scores, you can review your free credit report summary every 30 days on Credit.com.

[CREDIT REPAIR HELP: If you need help fixing your credit but don’t want to go it alone, our partner, Lexington Law, can manage the credit repair process for you. Learn more about them here or call them at (844)346-3295 for a free consultation.]

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores

Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd

The post What Do I Need to Dispute Things on My Credit Report? appeared first on Credit.com.

What Do I Need to Dispute Things on My Credit Report?

happy_at_work

Here’s something you probably already know: You get a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You probably also know it’s important to regularly look at your credit reports to check them for accuracy. That’s the easy part — when it comes to fixing problems on your credit reports, things can get a little confusing.

If you find something on your credit report you believe to be incorrect — like a late payment mark when you know you paid your creditor on time — you can dispute the error with the credit bureau. Keep in mind that you’ll need to dispute each error individually and with each credit reporting agency. Sometimes the process can be time-consuming and tedious, but there are a few things that can help you succeed in correcting inaccurate or unfair information.

A Clearly Written Letter

Disputing an error on your credit report requires you to state what the error is and where it is on your credit report. Whether you’re writing a letter or filling out a dispute form online with the credit bureaus, make the explanation short and clear.

Evidence

Whether you’re disputing the error online or by mail, you’re encouraged to send copies of documents supporting your dispute. If you can’t find a bill or statement that might help you clarify your dispute in your own records, you may want to reach out to your creditor and see if they can provide the account information you need. In the case of an error that resulted from identity theft, you’ll want to provide a copy of the police report you filed. Here are some tips on dealing with identity theft.

Keep in mind that not all problems you might encounter with your credit reports are best addressed through the dispute process. Consumers have the right to ask questions of and negotiate with companies that supply information to the credit reporting agencies (aka, data furnishers), and familiarizing yourself with those rights can help you ensure your credit reports are a fair and accurate representation of your credit history. You can, of course, do this yourself for free, but that can sometimes be difficult and take a lot of time, so you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you fix your credit.

To stay on top of the information on your credit report and how it affects your credit scores, you can review your free credit report summary every 30 days on Credit.com.

[CREDIT REPAIR HELP: If you need help fixing your credit but don’t want to go it alone, our partner, Lexington Law, can manage the credit repair process for you. Learn more about them here or call them at (844)346-3295 for a free consultation.]

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores

Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd

The post What Do I Need to Dispute Things on My Credit Report? appeared first on Credit.com.