Home > 2015 > Credit Score

What Really Happens When You Dispute Something on Your Credit Report?

Advertiser Disclosure Comments 31 Comments

Find a mistake on your credit report? One in five (21%) consumers who have seen their credit reports said they found wrong information on their reports, according to a Credit.com survey of credit report awareness. The common advice in this situation is, “dispute it.” But what happens to your credit reports and credit scores when you do?

We’re not talking here about the mechanics of the dispute process, but instead what happens to your credit reports and scores when you challenge items in your credit reports.

There are two ways to dispute a mistake on your credit report. The first, is through the credit reporting agency that is reporting the wrong information, and the second is to go directly to the furnisher that supplied that information to the credit bureau.

Disputes With Credit Bureaus

Both Experian and TransUnion said they do not add “disputed” to information that a consumer disputes directly with them. “You won’t necessarily see any indicator on the report itself that says it is in dispute,” says Rod Griffin, director of public education for Experian. And TransUnion Public Relations Director David Blumberg said in an email, “No, the item is not flagged by TransUnion and lenders do not see that it is currently being disputed.” On Equifax reports, the item will be “noted as ‘Consumer Disputes — Reinvestigation in Process” says Meredith Griffanti, senior director of public relations for Equifax, noting in her email, “If the consumer applies for credit during this time, the potential creditor will see this comment.”

Disputes With Creditors

On the other hand, if you dispute an item with the “furnisher” — the company reporting the information to the bureaus, such as a credit card company or auto lender, for example — it will very likely be noted as disputed. Here’s each major credit reporting agency’s policy:

  • Equifax: “It is a part of the statute of the FCRA that an unresolved dispute be noted by the creditor as ‘consumer disputes this account information’ or other similar language,” says Griffanti. “Lenders that request the report will see this information.”
  • Experian: “The lender may add a statement that notes it is in dispute and then Experian will add a notation noting that it is in dispute,” says Griffin.
  • TransUnion: “A furnisher may sometimes place an ‘account in dispute’ remark on the file, which can be seen by lenders,” Blumberg says.

Why It Matters

Why is it important whether an account is listed as disputed or not? Because that dispute could have an effect on your credit scores. While an account is documented as disputed, “it is temporarily excluded from consideration by the VantageScore model,” explains Jeff Richardson, spokesman with VantageScore. Similarly, “the FICO® Score algorithm excludes account activity that is in dispute,” says FICO spokesman Jeffrey Scott. But with FICO, the entire account won’t be bypassed  — just the disputed information. “The dispute doesn’t include the age, type or other non-controversial aspects,” Scott says. “It includes things directly impacted by the dispute — e.g., account balance, late payment.”

There are times when this could be a plus. For example, Richardson says, “If there was a missed payment on the disputed account, the consumer’s credit score can increase because the missed payment will be ignored.”

Unfortunately, the dispute process has sometimes been abused. There have been situations where consumers dispute an item that is negative but accurate, then quickly apply for credit, hoping the application will be approved while that information is under dispute and not recognized by the credit scoring model. If you’re thinking of trying that approach, be careful: It could backfire.

The Downside of Disputes

It is important to recognize there can be a downside to disputing an item while you are trying to get a loan. “A consumer could also possibly see a decline in his or her score because they would also not receive the positive impact of the account’s age, history and credit availability, on-time payments,” Richardson points out. And challenging a mistake while you are trying to get a home loan can hold up your loan: Lenders often will not close a mortgage until the dispute notation is removed.

The good news it that most disputes are processed quickly — in less than two weeks says Griffin — and once the investigation is complete, the item should no longer be listed as disputed. If it’s not, the consumer can request the “under dispute” notation be removed.  “If the credit report indicates the dispute has been resolved and/or closed, the account activity will be treated just like all other account activity,” Scott says.

Of course, in order to dispute a mistake on your credit reports, you have to know there is one. So be sure to order a copy of your credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies (since they all may have slightly different information). You can get your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com and you can find out how the information they contain affects your credit by checking your credit scores. You can get your credit scores for free on Credit.com, updated monthly. If you discover your credit report contains erroneous information, dispute it, but give yourself plenty of time to get the item(s) corrected and the dispute resolved before you apply for a mortgage, car loan or credit card.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

Image: Purestock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I am sorry I am confused. Is anything reported? It sounds like you said they removed it – no? I don’t understand how it can be listed as disputed if it’s gone.

    • Rosa Gomez

      HI Gerri Detweiler I accounts are deleted after I dispute them, will they ever come back on credit report?

      • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

        They shouldn’t but it does happen. We wrote about it here: Credit Deja Vu: When Negative Information Keeps Showing Up on Your Credit Report

        • Rosa Gomez

          i just got a letter fro the 3 credit bureaus and it says that the account has been removed, but i never paid it..and this morning i got a call from the collection agency demanding payment..i don’t know what to do..pay it or fax them proof of removal?

          • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

            Removal from your credit reports doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t owe it. This article explains:
            Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

          • Renee

            I am set to close in 30 days and a collection popped up on my credit report. Should I tell the lender now so I can address it or contact the collection agency to work out a paid account?

        • Rosa Gomez

          Thanks..I hired a credit repair company and i got letters from the credit bureuas saying these accounts have been removed..but i got a call today from collector demanding payment, i never paid it.so should i pay it or will it not show up on credit if i am tryig to buy a house?

          • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

            I see no reason why a collection account from 2005 should show up on your credit reports. Collection accounts may be reported seven years plus 180 days from the date you fell behind with the original creditor. This sounds way too old for that if it dates back to 2005.

            As for the letter, check the statute of limitations. If it’s too old (and in many states it sounds like it would be) write them a certified letter stating that you know the debt is too old. Read: Statute of Limitations On Debt Collection by State

            The only wrinkle I can see here, provided I understand the situation correctly, is if the SOL has not expired and they sue you and get a judgment. In that case the judgment would have its own reporting period.

  • Kevin

    I had a judgment on my credit report that was paid 2 years ago. I tried searching it on the county clerk’s website recently and cannot even find any documentation of it. However, it is still listed on my credit reports. How can I get it off? I already tried disputing with the credit agencies 2 years ago right after I paid it (too soon?) and they just verified it and made no changes on the judgment on the credit reports.

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Kevin —
      A paid judgment can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years. However, it will have less impact on your scores as time goes on and as you add more positive information. We wrote a post about it, and that might be useful to you. Here it is:
      I Found a Judgment on My Credit Report. Now What?

  • PC

    I had an account that was “closed at consumers request, settlement made” from 2009.
    It was just changed to “Written-off”

    I did settle this account and have a letter to prove it. Should I contact the credit bureau and ask them to correct it or will this affect my last date of activity.
    Thank you

  • Maggie M

    Hi, there was an item put on my credit in July this year which cause me to lose 55 points , i disputed the account and was proving fraud and the company asked the bureau to removed it in Sept which it was but my score is still affected by it. Question, do I get back my points(55 points lost cause of this) or does it remains the way it is

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Hi, Maggie,

      You can check on the credit report to see if the item in question is still being reported. If it is, you can try filing a dispute with the credit bureaus to have it removed. You can find more information on how to do so here: How to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report.

      Thank you,


      • Maggie M

        Hi Jeanine, i did dispute it and it was found to be fraud and remove from my credit report but my score is still 55 pointboff. W hen i called [Redacted], they said there’s nothing they can do about the point asbit is computer generated ( quote the system removed the points when thenitem wasbput on my credit but the system can not put back the points lost because of the fraudulent item .

  • Barbara Repko

    I disputed online about a [redacted] charge off balance, which they were reporting with defaulted balance but a current delinquent monthly payment and a delinquent amount different than charged off full balance. A few weeks later they changed it to an unsecured loan and listed as a new delinquent account, though it was from 2012. This is now showing as a current delinquent loan instead of old credit card charge off!

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    It could. It all depends on what is you are disputing and the rest of your credit profile.

    Thank you,


  • Gilbert Williams

    So I had a civial judgment appear on my credit that was my dad’s. I have contacted all three bureaus and made sure it was completely removed. This debt was never attached to my name in any way shape or form. Will I immediately receive the points back onto my score for a judgment that wasn’t mine to begin with?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Your score should rebound as soon as the judgment is removed.



  • EliHobbes

    I work in one state and live in another. The state that I work in constantly fouls up my taxes and now its impacted my credit. I’ve had issues for the past ten years with them losing my filed taxes, finding them only to be told the next time I talk with them that “I never filed them”. It’s quite aggrevating. Most years I am due a refund.

    In preparing for a home loan I found two court judgments against me by the state. One for over $2,000. I had to pay $50 to clear that one up. The other, for $600, was supposedly cleared the same month that it was filed in 2013.

    I’ve haven’t looked at the specific years but there was no year where I owed more than $100 to this state. The $2,000 judgement would be one of those years where they say I never filed.

    Last year in order to stave off future issues I started paying an extra $60 per year to file them electronically with the tax software that I use.

    Naturally I will dispute them online. My question is about the likelyhood of them being completely removed vs. being listed as a satisfied judgement. If able I will provide the bureaus with the data from the tax years. Does that state have to verify to the bureaus the legitimacy of the claim they made in court or simply verify that a court judgment was made? However erroneous, the fact remains that the state did file a claim in court and an judgement was made by the court. (Not that I knew anything about it until after the fact).


  • http://blog.credit.com/ Kali Geldis

    Hi ahg —

    Since the inquiries were less than a week apart, the vast majority of credit scoring models will group them together as one hard inquiry — this is done to allow people to shop around confident that they won’t be penalized. They may appear on your credit report as separate hard inquiries, but your score should only consider them as one inquiry.

  • http://blog.credit.com/author/christine-digangi/ Christine DiGangi

    You have to dispute with each credit reporting agency. You might find this helpful: https://www.credit.com/credit-repair/dispute-credit-report-error/

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    You might want to run this buy a consumer law attorney or bankruptcy attorney. Many attorneys will review your case for free so you can decide if you need to take legal action or not.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It sounds like you may want to get a professional to help you with this. See if you can get a consumer law attorney to review your case for free to see what your options are.

  • CoosCoos

    I had a collection item on my credit report which I disputed, and the collection was removed. Two weeks later it was added as a ‘new’ collection with all the exact same information plus an additional note under remarks that says “consumer disputes this account information”. Is that legal/allowed? Should I dispute it again? And continue to dispute it each time it’s re-added?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Hi there. We asked some experts about your situation and wrote a story about it: http://blog.credit.com/2016/07/i-closed-an-account-when-will-it-disappear-from-my-credit-report-151013/ We hope this helps!

  • Josie Perez

    Hi, I had 91-120 days on my credit report. The bureau confirmed it. I paid it in full when it had that status and 17 days after, the bank reports a charge off. I sent a dispute to the bank and the only change they made is that now appears as paid charge off and before said transfer/sold that was 2 days after they received my dispute. Now, I sent a dispute to the credit bureau with all the proofs. What do you think will happen? or give me an advise, please.

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    So I’m clear as to what happened regarding scores, but a judgment can stay on your report for up to seven years, even if it was paid. It should be showing up as paid on the credit report. If it’s not, you can dispute that. Here’s more info:




Certain credit cards and other financial products mentioned in this and other articles on Credit.com News & Advice may also be offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com will be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards or products. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Our Owners

Credit.com is owned by Progrexion Holdings Inc. which is the owner and administrator of a number of business related to credit and credit repair, including CreditRepair.com, and eFolks. In addition, Progrexion also provides services to Lexington Law Firm as a third party provider. Despite being owned by Progrexion, it is not the role of the Credit.com editorial team to advocate the use of the company’s other services. In articles, reporters may mention credit repair as an option, for example, but we’ll also be sure to note the various alternatives to that service. Furthermore, you may see ads for credit repair services on Credit.com, but the editorial team isn’t responsible for the creation or implementation of those ads, anymore than reporters for the New York Times or Washington Post are responsible for the ads on their sites.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team