If you find an error on your credit report, you can dispute the accuracy of the item with the credit reporting agency. Or, you can go directly to the source and dispute the item with the creditor or collector that reported the information to the credit reporting agency.
(To learn how to dispute information with the credit reporting agency, see How to Correct Errors in Your Credit Report.)
Your Right to Dispute Credit Report Information With the Creditor
You have a right to dispute the accuracy of information on your credit report with the company that reported the information. If you send a letter disputing such information, the company that provided the information to a consumer reporting agency (including original creditors and debt collectors) must investigate.
Use the correct address. If the creditor (or debt collector) specifies a particular address for receiving disputes, you must send your dispute letter to that address.
The Creditor’s Duty to Investigate
Companies furnishing information about you to consumer reporting agencies must respond in the same time frame that applies when you send a dispute letter to a consumer reporting agency. (For details, see How to Correct Errors on Your Credit Report.) Generally, the company has 30 days to investigate (which can be extended up to 45 days if you send additional information during this period) and must inform you of the results within five business days of completion.
When the Creditor or Collector Does Not Have to Respond
In a few situations, the creditor, collector, or other company that furnished information to the CRA does not have to respond to your dispute.
You already contacted the CRA. If you already contacted the consumer reporting agency directly to dispute incorrect or incomplete information in your credit file, and the company that furnished the information already responded appropriately to that dispute, it does not have to respond again, unless you provide it with additional information. (Learn how to dispute an item with the credit reporting agency.)
The dispute was prepared by a credit repair organization. The creditor also does not have to investigate if it has a reasonable belief that a credit repair organization submitted the dispute or prepared the dispute on behalf of the consumer, or a consumer submitted the dispute on a form supplied by a credit repair organization. This is just one of the many reasons you should not use a credit repair clinic. (For other reasons, see Don’t Use a Credit Repair Clinic.)
The Creditor’s Obligations When You Dispute Information
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act a creditor who furnishes information to credit reporting agencies must
- reinvestigate when you dispute reported information (as discussed above)
- not report incorrect information once it learns or has a reasonable basis to believe that the information is, in fact, incorrect (but it need not correct information if the only contrary information it has is your claim)
- promptly provide credit reporting agencies with correct, complete information when it learns that the information it has been reporting is incorrect or incomplete
- notify credit reporting agencies when a consumer disputes information (if the consumer sent the dispute to the address the furnisher specifies for disputes)
- note when accounts are “closed by the consumer’’
- provide credit reporting agencies with the month and year of the delinquency of all accounts placed for collection, charged off, or similarly treated, and
- finish its investigation of a consumer dispute within the 30- or 45-day periods in which the credit reporting agency must complete its investigation.
If the Creditor Agrees That the Information Is Incorrect: Next Steps
If you get a letter from the creditor that furnished the information agreeing that the information is incorrect and should be removed from your credit file, send a copy of the creditor’s letter to the credit reporting agency that reported the information.
Find articles on disputing errors on your report, adding postiive information, and more, in Cleaning Up Your Credit Report.
This is an excerpt from Credit Repair, by Margaret Reiter and Robin Leonard (Nolo).