If your credit report has an error or an item that negatively impacts your score, you can simply request to remove them through a dispute process. Equifax, Experian, and Transunion all have an easy online dispute center where anyone can go to and make a claim.
Checking Your Credit
Your credit reports may contain a lot of information. Make sure you navigate to your payment history or new accounts. If there are any incorrect data, these two areas are the most prone to have them. Your credit payment history won’t go too detailed, but if there’s a mark that indicates it was late or delinquent, you should find them here. For example, on the Experian website, you can find negative items under the status column.
Check each line for your credit cards or loan payment history in the credit report. In some occasions, a creditor may make a mistake and not notice. It’s your due diligence that matters, and by proactively monitoring your credit, you can sure to ensure that you don’t have false information that may undermine your score.
For a free credit score, check out the Annual Free Credit Score webpage. This is a site that was authorized by the Federal government for free scores.
Credit Agencies Online Dispute
To dispute any discrepancy, simply check the online pages for the dispute pages. The site links here should allow you to get the latest information on how to dispute online.
Important Information of Mandatory Arbitration Clause
Some of the online dispute centers may have an automatic mandatory arbitration clause. By clicking on the agree button, you may be automatically agreeing to the mandatory arbitration. Ultimately, what this means is that you can’t take them to court. This is a bit deceptive by the creditor or credit agency to get away once you simply click on the button to go forward. Make sure that you read the fine print and understand the ramifications of the action. Equifax has been known to take this route.
Sending A Letter
For those of you inclined to take the old fashion route, you can elect to write a letter to the credit bureaus. Make sure that you detail the transaction, the creditor or tax court, and other pertinent information. If you’re unsure about writing the letter, the federal government has a Credit Dispute Letter you can use.
If there are multiple errors on your credit score, make sure that you send out separate letters for each error. Individual disputes tend to get resolved faster and having separate files for each one may expedite your process.
The bureaus and credit reporting agencies may take time. Most experts indicate that the process takes over 30 days. The agency will exam the reported error and consult with the lender. Through further examination, the bureau will respond back and decide if your dispute is successful or unsuccessful.
What If They Reject My Dispute?
If the negative report is not removed, you have options. In fact, there a number of ways to tackle the issue. It’s not over!
Go Directly To The Reporting Creditor or Bank
The creditor may be in error and may have not taken the time to investigate your dispute thoroughly. Consider writing a letter directly to the reporting agency whether that is the bank or lender. Make sure you provide the details of your dispute, request that they provide evidence, and send it certified mail. If you have proof like bank statements to show that you paid on time, you can provide this as well to the letter. This way you have a record showing that the institution received it.
Once they complete the investigation, they’ll likely respond by a letter indicating that your dispute has been successful or unsuccessful. If successful, they will rectify the blemish on your report to all of the reporting bureaus.
Sue the bank or lender
Not all attempts will be successful. If you have the time and money, you can sue the creditor or lender directly for the incorrect report. You can even hire a lawyer to represent you in court. If you win, you may receive all damages and twice the amount of any finance charge. Also, the court can require the lender to pay the attorney fees.
File a Complaint to FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
Filing a complaint to the FTC may not necessarily get the creditor or bureau to remove your false transaction. However, it could get the company to realize that you’re serious and they might react to the action to mitigate further damage to their reputation. There’s a page that allows anyone to formally file a complaint and you can go to the Federal Trade Commission’s website to enter your complaint.
The credit dispute process can be overwhelming but it could be an important step as you take the journey to approve your credit score. Another important step is to keep checking your scores. There are plenty of free credit reports and you can make this a habit. Start by reading and checking that score for any blemishes, and then make the necessary steps to clear your name on the reports.