Home > Credit Score > What Happens When You Submit a Credit Report Dispute

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Finding a mistake on your credit report can be frustrating. Unfortunately, according to a Credit.com survey of credit report awareness, one in five consumers (21%) who have seen their credit reports say they found inaccurate information on their reports.

Not only is that a lot of frustration, but the error may also have a negative impact on your credit score. Submitting a credit dispute is the first step in the process of correcting inaccurate information and improving your score.

But what comes next? How do credit bureaus fix the error? What effect does a dispute have on your credit score? Here’s the whole story on what happens when you submit a credit report dispute.

How to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report

There are two ways to dispute an inaccuracy on your credit report.

  1. Go directly to the furnisher to dispute the error: You can contact the furnisher (the creditor furnishing the data to the credit bureau) directly to dispute the incorrect data on your credit report. If the furnisher finds the information to be inaccurate, it will correct the error and notify all three Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) of the discrepancy. If there is no resolution and you still feel there is a mistake on your report, the furnisher will inform the CRAs that the account is in dispute.
  2. Dispute the error with the credit reporting agency: You can also file a dispute through the CRA that has the inaccuracy on its report. Each one—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—has its own submission process for disputes. Once a dispute is submitted to a CRA, an investigation process starts.

Filing Disputes with the Credit Bureaus

If you include enough documentation when you submit a dispute through a CRA, the agency will resolve the error on your report. If additional information is needed, the agency you submitted the dispute to is required to initiate an investigation (unless your dispute is considered “frivolous”).

When the CRA investigates, the agency forwards relevant information about your dispute to the creditor. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the creditor must then investigate the claim and report its results back to the credit reporting agency. If the information is found to be inaccurate, the furnisher must submit corrections to all three credit reporting agencies.

Confirm with the CRA to find out if you need to continue making payments while in the dispute process. Each CRA has its own policies and procedures for investigations.

While disputed information is being reviewed by a credit bureau, it is not typically labeled as “disputed” on your credit report.

  1. Experian Disputes
    When you file a credit dispute with Experian, the agency reaches out to the furnisher and gives it 30 days from the date you submitted your request to respond back. For Maine residents, the time frame is 21 days. When the agency receives a response, Experian will notify you of the results of the investigation. If it does not get a response in the allotted time, Experian will correct the disputed information as you requested or delete the disputed information. During the investigation process, Experian does not add a comment, note, or any other indication of a dispute on your credit report. 
  2. TransUnion Disputes
    TransUnion usually finishes an investigation and provides you the results about 30 days from the receipt of your dispute—but the company recommends preparing for up to 45 days. When a customer contacts the agency directly, it does not add an “in dispute” comment to their credit report.
  3. Equifax Disputes
    Once your dispute request is submitted, Equifax notifies you of the results within 30 days. On average, disputes are resolved within 10 days. Unlike the other two CRAs, Equifax makes an indication of a consumer dispute on your credit report during the investigation. 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.”

Credit Disputes with Creditors

It is your right to dispute information that you believe to be inaccurate on your credit report. The overall process for disputing inaccurate information with creditors is similar to that of disputing information with the CRAs, but with one important difference: if you dispute an item directly with the furnisher, it will very likely be noted as “disputed” on your credit report for potential lenders to see.

Once you submit a dispute, the creditor has a duty to investigate your claim, according to the FCRA. In most cases, the creditor is expected to respond to your claim within 30 to 45 days and to inform you of the results of its investigation within five business days.

The creditor must notify the credit reporting agencies that you have disputed information, and, if it finds that the information is indeed incorrect, it must promptly provide accurate information to the reporting agencies. If you have received notice that the creditor agrees with your dispute, send a copy of that documentation to the CRAs that reported the information to ensure it gets updated. 

Why Credit Disputes Matter

Negative information on your credit report brings down your credit score. But whether an account is listed as “disputed” or not could also have an effect on your credit score.

When an account is documented as disputed, “it is temporarily excluded from consideration by the VantageScore model,” explains Jeff Richardson, spokesperson with VantageScore. Similarly, “the FICO Score algorithm excludes account activity that is in dispute,” says FICO spokesperson Jeffrey Scott.

VantageScore excludes entire accounts in dispute from the model that calculates your score. FICO, on the other hand, excludes only the disputed information such as an account balance and late payments—not the entire account—from its calculations of your score. “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 or late payment.”

There are times when the VantageScore model 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 been abused. Consumers will sometimes 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 Downsides of Disputing an Error on Your Report

Disputing inaccurate credit report items sounds like it would always be a positive thing, but it is important to recognize that there can be downsides to disputing an item—especially while you are trying to get a loan.

  • Positive information can also be affected: “A consumer could possibly see a decline in his or her score because they would also not receive the positive impact of the account’s age, history, credit availability, or on-time payments,” Richardson points out.
  • You may not be able to get a mortgage: 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. It may be best to wait to dispute incorrect data until after you close a mortgage.

The good news is 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.

If you have disputed information that is found to be accurate, time is the only thing that can remove that negative information from your credit report. In most cases, negative information stays on your report for 7 to 10 years.

Review Your Credit Report for Inaccuracies

Either way, to dispute a mistake on your credit report, you have to know there is one. You can get your credit reports for free at Credit.com and find out how the information they contain affects your credit by checking your credit scores. You can get your credit scores, which are updated monthly, for free on Credit.com.

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.

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  • 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,

      Jeanine

      • 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,

    Jeanine

  • 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.

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

  • 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).

    Thanks

  • 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:

    https://www.credit.com/credit-repair/how-long-do-things-stay-on-your-credit-report/

    Thanks,

    Jeanine

  • Heidi

    Hi,
    I recently ran my credit report. On two credit reports the judgement from 2010 was not there. On Trans-union it was present. I was provided info to dispute the judgement. My fear is where it can be removed off my report in a few months (7 years) I am afraid if I dispute it… it will sort of re-activate the judgement with a current date?? Could that happen? Any suggestions? Thank you… Heidi

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Disputing should have no bearing on the debt date.

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

  • Alan

    Hello,
    I had a business account for an LLC of which I was the primary. Two of us paid our debts and one did not. The payments fell behind when one partner did not make payments, but I ended up paying off the account. Since I was the primary, the account negatively impacted my personal credit. Would a dispute help keep this one account from negatively impacting my credit score? If so, what approach should I take?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      Your ability to successfully dispute the information on your personal credit reports hinges on whether you signed on personal guarantee on the line in question. If so, then those debts generally appear on your personal credit reports.

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    You can file a dispute with your creditor as well. Information on how to do so should be available on their website.

    Thanks,

    Jeanine

  • Keel-Keel

    I had recently sent a letter to Mid-Atlantic about supplying me a binding contract bearing my signature, then I wrote this item is being disputed. They sent a response letter back to me two times at different times. The first letter, they did not provide the contract with my signature. The second letter, they provided me with my contract that I signed at a car dealership bearing my signature. Then I waited till 30 days to see if they have provided the statement, “consumer disputed and agree with findings” something similar to that affect. I checked my credit reports and they provided nothing at all. I recently sent them another letter that I was going to take them to small claim court for violating the FCRA law. They sent the second letter to me again with a contract bearing my signature. I was not expecting that response back from them. I want to know what else can be done? Can I take them to small claim court because I have a case. I have sent a certified letter to them and I have all my letters that I sent to them and their response letters back to me. Did they violate the FCRA law and if so why are they acting like they did nothing wrong?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      You may want to consult a consumer attorney for your best recourse here.

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

      • Keel-Keel

        Hello Jeanine, I filed a complaint on this company Mid-Atlantic Finance to the C F P B, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and they got in touched with them. I mean I had my stuff together where Mid-Atlantic Finance could not tell a lie. I had prove to back up about what I had mailed to them and their response back me. I sent certified letters to the company-Mid-Atlantic Finance, so they couldn’t even say they didn’t receive my letters. CFPB really do investigate companies that consumers complaint about and they let me know what this company had said. After all my letters to Mid-Atlantic Finance, I actually told CFPB to tell me that, I quote,” we are sorry for the misunderstanding and we will delete all trade line.” Okay, at first I was okay with it, but I really didn’t understand what trade line was nor what they meant by that, so I looked up that trade line stuff and found out it meant they would delete the account under my name. Well, I let CFPB know that I was not completely satisfied with Mid-Atlantic Finance’s response. Now CFPB will get back in contact with them once more to get a full response to my satisfaction. And they still have not delete the trade line they have with me off my credit reports. I told CFPB I will give Mid-Atlantic Finance Company till the end of Jan.2017 to delete their entry off my credit report, or I will be moving to the next step.

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