You have a right to an accurate and complete credit report. If there are errors, outdated information, or missing information on your report, you may dispute the items with the credit reporting agency (CRA). In most situations, once you dispute an item, the CRA has a duty to investigate. However, there is an exception to this rule: If your dispute is frivolous or irrelevant, the CRA does not have to investigate further.
Read on to learn more about frivolous disputes and how to avoid trouble.
(To learn about disputing errors in your credit report, see the articles in our Cleaning Up Your Credit Report topic area.)
No Investigation for Frivolous Disputes
The credit reporting agency is not required to investigate any dispute that it determines to be frivolous or irrelevant. Examples of when a credit reporting agency might determine that your dispute is frivolous include:
- you don’t provide enough information to investigate the dispute, or
- your dispute appears to be a blanket dispute of almost everything in your credit file either generated by a credit repair company service or prepared by you using a credit repair service’s forms
- you repeatedly ask for reinvestigation of the same item, but offer no new information.
Once the agency determines that the dispute is frivolous, it has five business days to notify you of the decision and its reasons for the decision.
Don’t Do a “Blanket” Dispute
This means that if you dispute everything or almost everything in their report, without regard to what you believe is accurate or inaccurate, or you repeatedly ask for reinvestigation of the same item, the credit reporting agency may not have to investigate your dispute at all.
Many so-called “credit repair” websites and credit repair services recommend ways to game the system. But if you use these tactics, the credit reporting agency may find that your request is frivolous, making it harder for you to clean up your credit report. For example, many credit repair websites and credit repair services prepare blanket or repetitive disputes, advise clients to do so, or provide forms to clients which encourage a blanket dispute of most items in your report -- a good reason to avoid credit repair clinics. (For other reasons why you should avoid credit repair clinics, see Don’t Use a Credit Repair Clinic.)
How to Avoid Dismissal of Your Dispute as Frivolous
To make sure your dispute is not dismissed as frivolous: Dispute only those items in your report that you believe are incorrect or incomplete, explain why you believe they are incorrect or incomplete, and if you have documentation, include it. And, unless you have information you did not include before, or the credit repair agency changed your file after your request, but still did not get it correct, don’t send another request to reinvestigate the same item.
(For instructions on how to dispute errors or incomplete information in your credit report, see How to Correct Errors in Your Credit Report.)
This is an excerpt from Credit Repair, by Margaret Reiter and Robin Leonard (Nolo).