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What is a Credit Dispute?

Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Sometimes when you receive a full credit report, it can have inaccuracies that lower your overall credit score. Most financial experts recommend that you always check reports for mistakes and that you promptly write to the reporting agency to register a credit dispute. When you dispute a problem on your report, you may be able to raise your rating if the credit dispute is decided in your favor.

The major reporting agencies tend to allow you to file a credit dispute online, on the telephone or via mail. It’s recommended that you use paper mail, since this helps to create records that you can copy and forward to other agencies. Include as much information as you can. Say for instance one of your credit cards reports you made several late payments, but you have the canceled checks and receipts of these payments that show otherwise. Include copies of any receipts or canceled checks and briefly explain why information on your report is inaccurate.

When you file credit disputes, you should hear back from the agency within about 30-45 days. If you have not heard anything, you should contact them again, by phone and letter to ask the results of the dispute. Once you question something on your report, the major agencies have to investigate it, but if you provide them with significant proof, investigations may be quick.

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After the credit dispute is resolved, ask for a new credit report to verify that items disputed have actually been cleared. If they still remain on your report even though they have been reported as cleared, you need to speak with the agency again to make sure they follow through with any actions they plan to take. It can take a little patience to file a credit dispute and you do have to keep up on the process by making sure new reports are accurate, but it can be worth the time if it bumps up your credit rating.

There are some questions about when you should file a credit dispute. You should definitely file a dispute if you see huge problems like bankruptcies or charge-offs that don’t belong to you. Many people are unaware that these inaccuracies are affecting their credit, and even slight difference because of a one missed payment could change the types and amount of credit offered to you.

Some people turn to credit repair law firms or agencies to help them with complicated credit disputes. It’s true that some companies calling themselves credit repair agencies promise much more than they can really obtain. Under the law, negative information that is accurate cannot be removed from credit reports. Unless you have proof that the negative information is false, you shouldn’t file, or allow anyone else to file on your behalf, a credit dispute.

If your credit score is low due to problems in the past that are your fault, a credit dispute won’t help. When false reports or errors exist, credit repair firms charge you money for work that you are able to do. Under most circumstances, it makes more sense to work on financial responsibility in the present and future to improve credit, and to dispute true inaccuracies on your own, for free.

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