Credit Report Dispute Process

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    Preparation

    • Consumers must know there is a need for a dispute before initiating the process. Some discover there is a mistake when their credit applications are rejected, even though they know their records should be good. The FTC says that a company must disclose which credit bureau records it reviewed when it denies an application. The applicant has 60 days to order a free credit report from the appropriate bureau.

      The FCRA also lets everyone review their credit records annually for free through annualcreditreport.com. This official website provides reports from all three bureaus. They can be ordered all at once or staggered throughout the year. TransUnion, Experian and Equifax sell copies for people who wish to review their reports more frequently, according to the FTC.

    Process

    • The credit bureaus have online dispute forms, but the FTC recommends sending a detailed letter, and a copy of the credit report with all errors highlighted, through certified mail. Enclose copies of any documents that support the disputes. Request a return receipt to prove that the letter was delivered and to have a record of the exact date. The credit bureau is obligated by the FTC to investigate unless the claims are obviously frivolous, and it must adjust its records if warranted by fixing or erasing the questioned item.

    Time Frame

    • The FCRA lays out a specific time frame for credit report disputes. The credit bureaus have to investigate consumer disputes and take action within 30 days, which includes contacting the provider of the disputed information within five days. They must either correct the mistake or remove it if the lender did not respond to the query. Otherwise they must let the consumer know that the information was verified and will remain on the reports.

    Alternative

    • People can dispute problems directly with lenders if the credit bureaus claim the information was verified. They should demand verification and request that the lenders stop reporting the information if its accuracy cannot be proven. If a lender has documentation and the consumer does not agree, TransUnion advises that a personal statement can be added to the credit report stating the consumer's position. Anyone who orders the reports will see it and can consider it when making a decision.

    Warning

    • Credit bureaus may ignore frivolous or irrelevant disputes submitted by consumers. They generally disregard disputes that challenge a long list of items without giving solid reasons or proof, or those that are resubmitted without any new evidence after being denied.

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