If you find an error on your credit report, you might be tempted to call the creditor directly about it. However, the law doesn’t support you as strongly in that situation as it does if you file a dispute directly with the credit bureaus.
Once credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) receive a written dispute, they are required by law to conduct a reasonable investigation; review the supporting documentation provided by the consumer, and forward the dispute to the creditor or collector. The FCRA violation often occurs when the creditor or collector fails to conduct a reasonable investigation as mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
A reasonable investigation under FCRA requires the creditor or collector to:
(A) conduct an investigation with respect to the disputed information;
(B) review all relevant information provided by the consumer reporting agency; and
(C) report the results of the investigation to the credit bureau. 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b)(1).
If you start with the credit bureau and the investigation is mishandled by any of the parties involved, then they may be held legally liable.
Check all 3 credit reports for the error and file written disputes with each one.
If you see an error on one of your three credit reports (from Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax), make sure to immediately check the other two. Despite the fact that the law requires these agencies to report a disputed item to each other, that doesn’t always happen, so the responsibility is yours to file a dispute with each credit bureau reporting the error.
No one wants to see negative information on their credit report. If your credit report shows inaccurate or incomplete information, you can mail a dispute asking the credit bureau to investigate the information in question. Use this dispute letter and customize it to suit your situation.
The credit bureau will send the dispute to the furnisher (the creditor) that holds the account. If the creditor determines that the account is being reported incorrectly, they will update or remove the account to correct the information.
An online dispute is the one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Many online dispute forms contain arbitration clauses, which can undercut your consumer rights. The credit bureaus bury waiver clauses in the click agreement. By clicking, “I accept,” you’re giving up the right to sue them if they do something wrong.
Keep good records.
Just in case the errors aren’t corrected, you will have the documentation to prove that you did everything you were supposed to.
Keep copies of the letter you sent, the supporting documents you provided, and the proof of delivery (because you’ll send that letter by certified mail).
Mark your calendar for the response deadline.
Once you mail your dispute and the agency receives it, they have 30 days to provide you with an “investigation result.” That response should let you know if the accounts and/or items in dispute have been changed, removed, or left as-is. If you do not receive a response within 30 days, the agency could be legally liable.
If you get a response stating that they will not remove the error from your report, or the error isn’t corrected properly, consider consulting an attorney experienced with handling credit report errors.
It’s free to chat with me about your options – you can call or text me at 215.551.7109, or drop me a line.