If you find an error on your credit report you may start freaking out. Don’t worry you can get the first 10 minutes to freak out after discovering it, and then it’s time to take action. You can dispute your credit report errors with the credit bureau on whose report you find the error. This can be done either online via the bureau’s website or in writing by postal mail. If you chose to dispute the error online, you can even upload supporting documentation via the bureau’s dispute portal.
Once you formally dispute an item, the credit bureau has 30 to 45 days to investigate. If it determines the information is, in fact, an error—or they can’t verify it at all—the bureau has to remove the information. Of course, not all credit report disputes go smoothly.
Since you most definitely did not spend $15,000 on your credit card last November without repaying it, then you know that there must have been some error that took place that caused this to show up in your report. Don’t be alarmed, our USA Credit Repair Team will provide some insight into how to get inaccurate information off of your credit file. First, we will help you to understand how these errors may happen in the first place.
How Credit Report Errors Occur
Credit report errors can occur for a number of reasons. The National Consumer Law Center identified four common causes in a 2009 report on the topic. And in a 2019 press release, it reported that not much has changed. The four common causes it originally identified include:
- Mixed files - If someone with the same name or a similar name applies for credit, a piece of their file becomes mixed with another file. A consumer with a common name like “John A. Smith,” for example, might see his file mixed with a John B. Smith or a John A. Smith, Jr.
- Identity theft - If someone has stolen your Social Security number, for example, she/she can open a new account in your name. This information then appears on your credit report and can be particularly difficult to remove.
- Furnisher errors - There are three big players when it comes to credit report accuracy: the credit bureau, you the consumers and a data furnisher. That last one is important—it includes the banks, lenders, debt collectors and rental companies that supply (AKA “furnish”) the credit bureaus the data that appears on your credit reports. Often, a furnisher reports something inaccurately, like a missed payment or a collection account that actually belongs to someone else.
- Re-aging of old debts - Certain debts have a ticking clock of sorts when it comes to your credit report. A collection account, for example, is supposed to age off of your credit report after 7 years and 180 days from when it was first delinquent. (Learn about the statutes of limitations on debts in each state across the U.S.)Re-aging occurs when a debt is sold to a third-party collector and the start date on the debt’s clock is muddied. This causes your credit to take a hit for much longer than it should under the law.
How to Write an Effective Dispute Letter or Explanation
If you take a DIY approach to credit repair, there are a few things to remember when writing a dispute letter or your explanation to use in an online dispute submission.
- Be clear and concise - A credit bureau is concerned about accuracy, so pinpoint exactly what is inaccurate, including the date of the inaccuracy, the account in question, the lender, etc.
- Don’t quote federal laws - Writing that you want to initiate a dispute is sufficient enough. Credit bureaus know the laws already.
- Include your return address - So your results can be sent to the right place. (When disputing errors online, you’ll enter your address as part of the process.)
Remember to never ignore errors on your credit report. Instead, address them promptly either by raising a dispute on your own or reaching out to a trusted credit repair agency with a reputation for excellence who can take the hassle out of fixing these mistakes for you. Errors in credit reports, unfortunately, happen more often than we would like; share your experiences with us in the comments and tell us how you got yours fixed.
Be on the lookout for more informative tips from us in future blog posts. USA Credit Repair believes that achieving financial freedom is within your reach and we will support you on your journey. Start that process today by becoming more financially responsible and you will most definitely reap the benefits!