Once you’ve ordered your credit report and checked your credit report for errors, it’s time to take action. Because negative information in your credit report can have serious consequences, you need to fix your credit report as quickly as possible. The process of credit report repair can be frustrating, but it’s imperative that you’re persistent. The first step is to dispute incorrect items in your credit report.
Overview of the Credit Report Dispute Process
Generally speaking, the process of disputing an item on your credit report involves contacting the consumer reporting agency (also known as the credit bureau) as well as the information provider (typically the creditor). Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the credit bureau has to investigate your claim, typically within 30 days. The consumer reporting agency must notify the creditor about the dispute. The creditor must then investigate your claim, and if the creditor determines that you’re correct, must notify all of the national consumer reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) of the mistake. Afterwards, the consumer reporting agency has to provide you with the results in writing, along with a free copy of your revised credit report. That negative information can’t resurface unless the creditor verifies that the information is accurate. When that’s the case, the consumer reporting agency has to send you a written notification that includes the creditor’s contact information.
The issue that often comes up – particularly in relation to debt collection agencies – is that the collector won’t correct the disputed information. When that happens, you have to ask the credit reporting agency to include your statement of dispute in your credit report. You can also ask the credit bureau to send your dispute statement to those who have received a copy of thereport.
How to Contact Credit Reporting Agencies
If your credit report is inaccurate, you should contact the issuer of the credit report as soon as possible.
Experian (www.experian.com) – Experian offers an online dispute process. In order to dispute information online, you need the report number that’s located near your name at the top of the report. If you provide your email address, Experian will notify you when the dispute has been resolved. Note that, in order to take advantage of the online dispute process, your report can’t be more than 90 days old.
Equifax (www.equifax.com) – Equifax also offers an online dispute process that covers both Equifax and CSC Credit Services. The process is similar to Experian’s online dispute process. You can also dispute an item on your credit report via phone.
TransUnion (www.transunion.com) – You can dispute information on your TransUnion credit report online, or via phone (800-916-8800) or the mail. In order to dispute by mail, you can download TransUnion’s dispute form online. If you dispute an item by mail, you can expect a response within 45 days.
In addition to the “big three” consumer reporting agencies, there are a number of specialty credit bureaus that also issue reports which could negatively affect you. These cover such areas as check writing, employment, insurance, medical payments, and tenancy. These specialty consumer reporting agencies must also abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
How to Contact Information Furnishers
In addition to disputing an item with the consumer reporting agency (also known as a credit bureau), it’s important to send a written dispute to the information furnisher (usually a creditor or debt collection agency). Doing so will protect your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Typically, a creditor or debt collection agency will provide an address for disputes. Send a credit report dispute letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Make sure to include copies of any documentation you have to support your claim. Outline the item that you are disputing, and make your case as to why the item is incorrect and should be removed from your credit report or corrected.
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