Tips for Disputing Credit Report Mistakes—and Getting Results
So how do you increase your chances of successfully disputing a mistake on your credit report?
Hendricks and California consumer law attorney Robert Brennan both suggest sending your dispute by certified mail, return receipt requested. Brennan does not recommend disputing items online. “For one thing, you do not get a complete record of what you send to the bureaus, and cannot send along any supporting documentation of your dispute,” he explains on his web site. “Also, some of the credit bureaus are sneaking in binding arbitration clauses for consumers who dispute online, (which means they) could lose their right to get justice in the courts with a jury.”
Include copies of any documentation you have that demonstrates the information the credit reporting agency has is wrong.
Be careful about using form letters you find on the Internet. Many of them incorporate detailed references to the Fair Credit Reporting Act or other laws that scream “credit repair.”
Be as clear and succinct as possible in your dispute letter. Either type it, or make sure your handwriting is legible. Remember, the person reading it will probably scan it in order to assign it the proper code for the system.
If you are confident an item is wrong, dispute it with the creditor. “If you can make that work, it’s the path of least resistance,” says Hendricks. If a creditor makes a correction, it must share it with all the credit reporting agencies to which it reports. The credit reporting agencies, on the other hand, are not required to share information with each other.
Monitor your credit reports. “Even if you are successful (getting an item removed), you must continue to monitor your credit report because it could be furnished again,” warns Hendricks.
If all else fails, consult a consumer law attorney. You may have a case for credit damage under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
[Related: How to Order Your Free Annual Credit Report]