There’s only one thing to do if you find a mistake on your credit report and want it fixed: dispute it. But the task may seem daunting, especially if you’ve never had to dispute a credit report before, or if you’re concerned about whether or not it will work. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming to dispute a mistake on your credit report. Here’s what you need to know about what happens after you find a mistake on your credit report.
1. Start a Credit Report Dispute
The first step is, of course, to file a credit report dispute. Here’s how you can do that:
- Identify which credit reporting agency (CRA) is showing an error. There are three (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion), and you should dispute the error only with the CRA showing that error. If more than one has an error, you’ll have to do individual disputes for each.
- You can start a dispute either by sending a dispute letter to the appropriate CRA or by filing a dispute on their website. Some even let you call in the dispute, though filing online is likely going to be the easiest way to start and follow up on the dispute.
- Before you conclude your dispute, be sure that you’ve included any supporting documents you can. This will help you prove that what you saw on one of your credit reports was an error. Then go ahead and submit your dispute and wait for the results.
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2. View the Results of Your Dispute
CRAs are given approximately 30 days to complete the investigation. Below are a few of the possible results you might see from your dispute:
- The error gets fixed. In this scenario, the results of the CRA’s investigation finds that the mistake you pointed out was, in fact, an error and they either delete that item or update it on your credit report.
- The information is deemed to be accurate. There may be times when the result of the investigation points to the mistake you identified as not being a mistake. In that case, your information is verified as correct and no changes are made.
- Other information is updated. Sometimes a credit report dispute results in other information on your credit report being updated — information that was not previously in dispute. You will be notified at the time of the concluded dispute if this occurs.
- Your dispute is classified as “frivolous.” There can be times when a dispute is concluded with no change to your credit report because the dispute is deemed frivolous. This can happen if you don’t include sufficient information in your dispute or if the CRA has reason to believe you’ve filed a duplicate dispute.
All hope is not lost if you disagree with the results of your dispute. The next step you can take is to write a statement of dispute (often with a maximum of 100 words) to add to your credit report. That way businesses viewing your credit report will be able to see your explanation for the information there that you believe to be inaccurate.
3. Continue to Monitor Your Credit
Don’t stop monitoring your credit once your credit report dispute has concluded. There are many reasons why it’s important to monitor your credit, including:
- Credit reports are updated on a regular basis, meaning new errors can happen even after you’ve disputed old ones.
- The information on your credit reports is used in part to generate your credit scores. Unresolved disputes can needlessly drag down your credit scores.
- It takes time to build good credit. The sooner you check your credit reports and learn if you have work to do on this front, the sooner you can repair your credit and be prepared for future financial needs.
- Reviewing your credit reports can help you spot signs of identity theft — a challenge more easily overcome the sooner you realize it and report the issue.
It’s fairly easy to monitor your credit regularly. You can get free access to your credit reports once a year on AnnualCreditReport.com, and sites like Upturn Credit enable you to view updates to your credit regularly. What’s more, the more often you review your credit, the better you’ll know your reports and the faster the review process can be.