So, you’ve been monitoring your credit report, (Link to Credit Monitoring post) as a financially savvy person should…and you find an error! How do you dispute credit report errors? We’re so glad you asked. Many people will dispute the credit bureau online, which is A HUGE MISTAKE. Sending a dispute to the credit bureau by reporting it online is like the fox watching the hen house. Read on to learn why.
When You Dispute a Credit Report, What Happens?
It’s easy to dispute credit report errors via the online system, and for good reason. Credit bureaus are governed by the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act), which is supposed to keep things fair and above board. BUT, the bureaus are highly motivated to get your response through THEIR system, because it allows them to ignore key parts of the law.
Disputing online allows the credit bureau to skip steps
Disputing online means the bureau can “expedite” the process; this is called EDRP (Expedited Dispute Resolution Process). Since they’re supposed to be “expediting,” they don’t have to tell you HOW they’re verifying the facts. They don’t even have to notify you before they put an item BACK on your credit report. Did you hear that? They get to ignore the law!
Using a free report service can delay your investigation
The bureaus have 30 days to investigate your error. BUT – if you use the report at annualcreditreport.com (which is a “free” service), they have 45 days! No one told you this, right?
Your credit report dispute has no paper trail
Winning a case against the credit bureaus requires meticulous record keeping. If you have to go to court, you’ll have plenty of ammunition. However, when you dispute a credit bureau online, you’re forced to use their online dispute system E‐OSCAR. The fields are limited, and there’s no way for you to preserve a paper trail. You’ll have no records to keep; all your important information is sucked up into the black hole of their internal system. You also won’t get access to important documents like the MOV (Method of Verification) which can fill in the gaps and allow you to present an air-tight case should the need arise.
The error may not be permanently deleted
Again, with online reporting, the law is not specific enough. The Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA) can actually do a “soft delete” – which lasts for 30 days. Since you reported the dispute online, the CRA’s don’t even have to let your creditors know that you disputed. After 30 days, the creditor (who’s none the wiser) will just report it again…and it pops right back on your report. You don’t have any paper trail to prove this process, so you’ve got no evidence.
Always Dispute the Credit Bureaus in Writing
So, how should you dispute credit report errors? Let’s listen to the FTC.
The FTC states very clearly that you should dispute EVERY item you think is not accurate, incomplete, or unverifiable on your credit in writing and by certified mail, “return receipt requested.” Sure, it’s old school, but you’ll be left with a fat file folder FULL of evidence that you’re right. You’ll have proof of what you sent, and proof that they received it.
So, How Should I Dispute the Credit Bureau?
Send a written request
If you see incorrect information on your credit report, send a written request for verification to the credit reporting agency. Send it certified mail, with a notice of receipt. This ensures you’ll know the agency received your request, and you’ll have a paper trail with a date to begin the countdown for removal.
Send dispute letters to EACH agency
Make sure you send separate dispute letters to each agency that has the information, even if it’s exactly the same. The credit reporting agencies don’t share information or communicate with one another. Even if you have the data removed from one report, it may stay on the other reports until you submit another request.
Bottom line: Don’t Dispute the Credit Bureau Online
Submitting an online dispute with a credit reporting agency may seem like the fast, easy way to get the results you want, but it may not work out in your favor. The answer for anyone reading this blog post should be; I will never dispute an item in my credit report online! Repeat after me, “Now I know better!” At the end of the day, the moral of the story is; gain knowledge, become confident, and become a better, more informed consumer moving forward.
If you need help with your credit or need more information please visit us at www.creditexperts.io or schedule your appointment today! InCredtable Advisors is Indianapolis’s only Licensed, Bonded & Insured full-service credit consulting company. Let us help you improve your credit now by calling us at 317-202-1297.