Your credit report is one of the most important things impacting peoples financial life. If you have a low credit score, you will have a hard time getting approved for credit.
You may have to rent because you can’t get approved for a mortgage. Your interest rates on accounts you are able to obtain will be much higher than the average person.
Bad credit can cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your life.
What can you do?
Check your report for discrepancies. Dispute errors and negative items on your report. Add more positive history to your report.
This is the same advice you’ll find anywhere. In this article we’re going to drive into detail on exactly how to check your credit, dispute negative accounts, and ways to add positive payment history in a hurry.
How does disputing your credit report work?
The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) allows us, as consumers to dispute anything on our credit report we believe is inaccurate. All three major Credit Bureaus, Transunion, Experian, and Equifax have to launch an investigation into the disputed accounts. By law, they have 30 days to validate the information with the creditor, or collection agency, or they have to delete it and send you the dispute results.
This is the main thing credit repair companies do for their clients. It is effective, even if the accounts you are disputing are accurate collection accounts, they are removed at a fairly descent percentage.
Get copies of your credit reports and scores
You can get a free copy of your credit report and credit score from Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and WalletHub. You don’t have to pay anything to get updated copies of your credit reports and scores from these sites. Get the app or go to the websites to access the reports.
It’s best to print out a copy of each report so you can highlight each item to want to dispute. However, it’s not required. You can dispute your credit report online or by phone, you don’t need to mail your disputes anymore.
Decide which accounts you want to dispute
Go over all of the account information and make sure their aren’t any errors, such as late payments, accounts you don’t recognize, etc. If you notice any errors, or anything that may be incorrect you will want to mark it to be disputed.
Can I dispute accounts that are correct?
Yes. Even if an account is correct you can still dispute it. Of course you will only want to dispute negative accounts. And yes, you can get accurate accounts removed from your credit report. The creditor will have to validate that the account belongs to you and is correct, otherwise the Credit Bureau has to remove it.
How to dispute your credit report with the Credit Bureaus
Now that you know exactly which items you will be disputing on each credit report. You will need to file the disputes with the Credit Bureaus directly. There are several ways you can do this now, by mail, phone, online, or through the Credit Karma app. However, with Credit Karma you can only dispute with Equifax and TransUnion, so you will still need to use another channel to dispute with Experian.
Credit Bureau Dispute Information
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Phone: 800-916-8800 – 8am-11pm EST
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Phone: (714) 830-7000
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Phone: (800) 846-5279
What reason should I give as to why I am disputing an account
If the account you are disputing is accurate, you just have to be truthful. If the account is actually accurate, you can use any reason, just claim that it’s not yours, or you don’t recognize it. You can dispute all of the negative items at once if you want.
You don’t want to tell them or give the impression that you are disputing accurate items just hoping to get them removed. If they suspect you are, they will mark your dispute as frivolous.
What to do if an account isn’t removed
If you have disputed a negative item or account and it doesn’t get removed. You can dispute it again, sometimes there may be a 4 month waiting period.
But what if an account keeps getting validated?
Pay for Delete Letter
You can negotiate what’s called a pay for delete with the collection agencies. This is an agreement where they agree to remove the account if you pay the amount due. This is important because if you pay a collection account and the creditor just updates the status to paid, it will not improve your scores. Only having the negative account completely removed will help increase your credit score.
Negotiate a settlement
Normally I would not recommend paying a collection account if the creditor won’t remove it, because it won’t help your score. But, by paying it, it may help your odds of having that account removed when you dispute it.
If you don’t owe the creditor any money and the account is paid, they have nothing to gain by validating it. And since these collection agencies get tons of disputes, they may just ignore the ones that are paid.
It’s a fairly simple process, by following the advice in this article you can dispute your credit report with success. Here are some other articles you may find helpful.
Randall has over 15 years of experience in the mortgage and credit industries. He spends a chunk of time helping consumers understand their credit, advise them on how to increase their credit, and lending his mortgage expertise to help them find the right type of loan. Randall lives in Dallas, Texas with his two sons.