Reviewing your credit reports is one of the most important steps you can take to solidify your financial health. After all, your credit reports inform your credit scores, which determine if you’re going to be approved for credit, and how much interest you’ll pay for it.
The idea behind reviewing your credit reports, as you might already know, is to ensure that everything you see is correct. All accounts should be accounts you’ve either authorized or cosigned on, all of your personal information should be accurate, and things like your payment history should be correct. If not, then you can dispute any incorrect items on your credit reports to ensure that they’re fixed and your credit score doesn’t needlessly suffer.
But do you ever stop to wonder if there are things you can’t dispute on your credit report? Read on to find out what you can dispute on your credit reports, and what might lead to your credit report dispute to being deemed “frivolous.”
Things You Can Dispute on a Credit Report
In a way, this is a trick question. There aren’t really items on your credit report that you can’t dispute. But, if you want to see your credit report corrected, then the only things you should dispute are mistakes. Here are some examples of mistakes you might find.
Inaccuracies in Your Personal Information
If you see something wrong with your personal information on your credit report, it’s important to dispute it. The main concern with inaccuracies in personal information is that they can lead to someone else’s credit lines showing up on your reports.
Make sure your social security number is correct (and look for easy-to-miss mistakes such as transposed numbers), and that your birthdate and name spelling are correct as well. Ensuring that this section is accurate is a good way to protect your credit reports.
Accounts You Never Authorized or Cosigned On
See any accounts that shouldn’t be there? That definitely warrants a credit report dispute. Keep in mind, however, that there could be accounts you cosigned on, even if you’re not the primary user of that account. If your name is on it, it could show up on your credit report.
That said, if you see an account on your credit report that you in no way authorized, dispute it immediately. It could be a mistake, or it could be the first sign of identity theft. Either way, it can damage your credit report if the real owner of the account goes delinquent on payments.
Incorrect Payment History
It’s not just important to review the accounts listed on your credit report, but also to review the payment history of each account. Payment history is the top factor in determining your credit scores, and even one late payment can cause a drop.
If you happen to see a late payment (or late payments) and know for a fact that you made those payments on time, you can send in your financial statements to prove it with your credit report dispute letter to enable the dispute process to go through that much more easily.
Account Status Errors
Notice that a closed account is being reported as open, or vice versa? You can certainly dispute this on your credit report if you want to. Just keep in mind that lenders tend to report to the credit reporting agencies (CRAs) once a month. So, it might be a good idea to give a little bit of time for that update if you just closed an account.
Just About Anything You Know to Be Untrue
We asked Rod Griffin, Director of Education and Awareness at Experian, what can be disputed on a credit report, to which he replied, “You should dispute anything you believe is inaccurate in your credit report.”
Griffin went on to say that, “We want our reports to be completely accurate in order to help people have access to quality credit.”
How to Avoid a “Frivolous” Claim on Your Credit Report Dispute
For one thing, according to Griffin, identical disputes that have already been processed are not required by law to be re-processed. When you submit your first dispute, you can improve your chances of success by including any proof of the error you can find. Just remember to send copies and not original documents if you opt to send them through the mail.
You might also want to avoid disputing items before they’ve had a chance to be updated. Again, lenders don’t necessarily update your information with CRAs more than once a month. So if you just paid down a balance within the past few weeks, for example, you might want to wait to see what your report looks like in the next month before engaging in a dispute. Chance are, it just needs a little more time to update.
What If They Dispute the Dispute?
If you do file a credit report dispute and disagree with the result, Griffin said that, “we strongly encourage you to add a statement of dispute to your credit report.”
“A statement of dispute,” Griffin said, “allows you to explain why you disagree with the results, essentially to tell your side of the story. Anyone who requests your report is notified of the statement so it can be taken into consideration as part of the lending decision.”
Finally, if you feel that the CRA is not working in good faith to correct errors on your credit report, you can file a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau here.
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