Everything you need to know about credit report disputes

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Finding a mistake on your credit report can be frustrating. Those errors can have a negative impact on your credit score. Submitting a credit dispute to the reporting bureaus 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 TransUnion dispute or a dispute at one of the other credit bureaus.

How do you dispute an inquiry or other negative item on your credit report?

You have the right to a fair and accurate credit report. And you can dispute information on your credit report if you think it’s not accurate. You can follow steps for DIY credit disputes or work with professionals to get the job done. Typically, the process starts with a credit dispute letter.

What happens after you open a dispute?

While disputed information is being reviewed by a credit bureau, it is not typically labeled as disputed on your credit report. And each of the three credit bureaus has their own process for dealing with disputes. They all reach out to the creditor or entity that provided the information in dispute as part of the investigation.

Experian disputes

When you file a credit dispute with Experian, EXPGY, +0.35% the agency reaches out to the entity that provided the information. Typically, that’s the creditor.

The business that provided the information in question has 30-45 days from the date you submitted your request to respond back. In some states, the time limit may be shorter.

When Experian receives a response, it notifies you of the results of the investigation. If it doesn’t 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.

TransUnion dispute

TransUnion TRU, +2.86% also follows up with the entity that reported the information. Based on the information you provided and the information provided by the creditor, the bureau makes a decision about the dispute.

How long does a dispute take with TransUnion? TransUnion usually finishes an investigation and provides you the results about 30 days from the receipt of your dispute. But the company recommends preparing to wait for up to 45 days.

TransUnion does not note your credit file when an investigation is in process. It will change the disputed information as you requested if the creditor does not respond in a timely manner.

Equifax disputes

Equifax EFX, +1.25% notifies you of the results of a dispute within 30 days. On average, disputes are resolved within 10 days.

Unlike the other two agencies, Equifax does indication an item is under dispute on your credit report during the investigation.

Also see: Equifax says it will work with lenders, creditors to help reduce the impact of the coronavirus crisis on U.S. credit reports

On Equifax reports, the item will be “noted as ‘Consumer Disputes—Reinvestigation in Process” says Meredith Griffanti, senior director of public relations for Equifax. “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 credit reporting agencies, 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 Fair Credit Reporting Act. 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. 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 credit bureau that reported the information to ensure it gets updated.

What happens when you dispute something on your credit report and get denied?

The initial investigation conducted by the credit bureaus isn’t extremely thorough. It amounts to them contacting the creditor or reporting entity and asking if the information is true. The documentation that the creditor must provide to verify the debt is not typically substantial. So, it’s possible that your initial dispute is denied and the inaccurate information remains on your report.

When that happens, you can escalate the dispute by sending additional information to make your case. According to TransUnion, examples of supporting documentation for a dispute include letters from the creditor, canceled checks showing payment or accurate bills or statements that document your case.

One option many people consider is working with a professional credit repair firm. These firms do all the same things you can do on your own to dispute information. However, they tend to do them faster and with greater aggression and expertise, which can provide you with peace of mind and help make a positive outcome more likely.

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