This two-digit code is then sent with no other documentation back to the bank or credit card company related to the dispute. This is the extent of the “investigation.” And this inaccurate information can stay on your credit report for years.
In the meanwhile, you could spin your wheels and contact the credit bureaus until you are blue in the face, and no one will take the initiative to just remove the darn errors from your credit report.
It’s a terrible system for addressing mistakes, and it makes us red in the face. This is a hot button for us because we’ve had more than a few clients who really struggle to get the credit bureaus to fix mistakes.
You see, credit bureaus have no reason to correct errors on your credit report. Their biggest clients are credit card companies, banks, and lenders. These are the organizations that pay money to the credit bureaus, and these are the organizations that benefit if your credit score is low. After all, if you have errors on your credit report that are artificially eroding your score, you will pay higher interest rates to the credit card companies, banks, and other lenders.
Fortunately, the courts are starting to take notice of credit bureaus are creditors who behave poorly. A woman in Oregon recently was awarded $18.6 million by a jury when she took Equifax to court after she spent two years trying to get the bureau to correct mistakes on her credit report. $18.6 million! That’s a lot of money, and we think it suggests that people are getting sick and tired of dealing with irresponsible credit bureaus and dishonest creditors.
And so are we. That’s why we have designed this article specifically for people who have errors on their credit reports.
We want you to know that you have rights …
You can fight back. You can sue the credit bureaus and your creditors if they are violating you rights and refusing to correct errors. You might even be able to get some monetary compensation.
But first, let’s try to get those errors corrected using this four-step process:
- Get Out Your Credit Report and Look for HIGH-Priority Errors
- Dispute Only Erroneous Errors
- Write a Formal Dispute Letter
- Fight Back
What Are High-Priority Errors?
Credit report errors can be simple, such as having the wrong address or name listed on your account. These are “low-priority” errors because they aren’t hurting your score.
Other errors—those that are older than two years are likely not hurting your score much (unless they are a severe delinquency). But some errors can have a significant impact on your credit score, and you should fix them immediately. By removing credit report errors, you could see your score jump 20, 50, or even 100 points.
Here are the high priority credit report errors to be on the lookout for:
- Information—such as names, Social Security numbers, or accounts—that does not belong to you. This is one of the highest priority credit report errors out there as it could indicate that you are a victim of identity theft.
- Delinquent account information—such as a collections notice—that is listed more than once.
- Credit limits that are incorrectly reported or not reported at all.
- Incorrect delinquent information, especially if the information is less than two years old.
Once you find all your high-priority errors, know that you should dispute your legitimate errors only. You will not succeed if you just decide to dispute anything and everything, even if it isn’t a mistake. The credit bureaus will consider your dispute requests to be frivolous, and they will respond by ignoring all of your requests for correction.
So only dispute information that truly is erroneous.
Your Formal Dispute Letter:
Okay, with that out of the way, we need to make sure you file a formal complaint with the credit bureau or bureaus reporting the inaccurate information.
Write a detailed letter to dispute the debt with the credit reporting bureau or bureaus that is reporting the error. Here are a few things you should know about sending a formal dispute:
- Be as detailed as possible in your dispute letter.
- If all three bureaus are reporting the error, then the dispute must be sent to all three agencies.
- You can either mail the letter or fill out a form online via the bureau’s web site. If you file the form online, be sure to generate and print a confirmation page for your records. If you choose the mail it, send it via certified mail and save a copy of your certified mail receipt.
Once the credit bureaus receive your complaint, they have about thirty days to fix the credit report. If they fix it, great! But if it has been thirty days since you sent the letter, chances are, the credit bureaus haven’t resolved your dispute to your satisfaction … If this is the case, you have a potential cause of action against the creditor or credit bureaus, meaning you can sue and receive monetary compensation.
If you are ultimately unsuccessful in getting the errors removed from your credit report, let us know all the details, including as much information you have about the error, as well as the action steps you have taken to remove it from your credit report.
Please also provide the following documentation:
- A copy of your credit report or reports with the inaccurate information circled.
- A copy of your dispute or disputes to the bureau or bureaus.
- Copies of all responses from the bureau or bureaus.