Disputing Items with Credit Agencies

In the United States there are three main credit agencies: Experian, Equifax and Trans Union. If you have recently received a copy of your credit history and there is information that you don't agree with (whether it's incomplete or simply wrong) it is possible to dispute its accuracy. This doesn't apply simply to negative entries – sometimes credit agreements don't show up on your report, and you might have been refused credit because of an "insufficient credit file." The good news is that you do not need to pay anyone else to dispute your credit report for you: you can easily do it yourself.

How To File A Dispute

The first thing to do is to write to the credit agency that provided the report and inform them that you disagree with a certain entry/entries in it. With this letter, you should include a "statement" with the following information:

  1. Your name and address
  2. The entry you disagree with
  3. Why you disagree with it

If you have documentation to support your dispute, include copies of this with your letter and statement – but always remember to keep the originals and a copy of your letter disputing the entry. You must also send a letter with a copy of the statement and supporting evidence to the entity that provided this information, which may be a bank, credit card company or other type of creditor. If possible, make a copy of your credit report and highlight the part that you disagree with. This may help to speed up the process. Once you are ready to send this to the credit agency and the credit provider, send them by certified mail, requesting acknowledgement of receipt by return.

The Credit Bureau's Response

Once they receive your dispute the credit agency will write back to you with their response and the results of any investigation (unless they consider your dispute to be irrelevant or without merit.) If the information on your credit report is found to be incorrect, they will inform you of this and enclose a copy of your updated credit report free of charge. If a credit agency is unable to confirm whether or not the disputed information is correct, they must delete it. You can ask them to inform anyone who has searched your report in the last six months, by way of a correction notice. If one credit agency has been found to have inaccurate information on your credit history, there is a strong chance that the other two might also have the same or similar entries. It is therefore very important that you make sure that all three agencies reflect true circumstances

What If This Does Not Resolve The Dispute?

If you are not happy with the results of the investigation you are entitled under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to explain your version of events in up to 100 words. This explanation will then be included in every copy of your report issued by the credit agency. However, if the bad credit entries on your credit file are accurate, you will not be able to have them amended or removed and they will stay on your file for 7 years (or 10 years if you file bankruptcy).

Money problems can be very stressful. If you can't see a way out of a bad financial situation, talk to a specialist bankruptcy attorney who will consider your particular circumstances and advise you about your options.

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