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Credit Report Disputes

Credit Report Inaccuracies & How to Dispute Them


Possession and use of credit cards are a must these days; you use our credit cards in all your transactions – in-store or online. Your reliance on your credit cards is grounded on the ease of purchases, approval of loans or mortgages, and cashless payments, which in turn is reflected on your credit scores. However, with the ease and comfort of the utilization of credit cards, you also have to accept the onus that errors may occur and are reflected on your credit reports. These errors, if they are not disputed and corrected, can seriously damage your credit scores. These may lead to a negative credit score; the repercussions of such may include a denial of loans or a higher interest rate. It can also delay any transactions you urgently need until these errors are corrected. 

Types of Credit Report Inaccuracies

The most common credit report inaccuracies include the following: (1) identity errors; (2) accounts errors; (3) balance errors; (4) duplication errors; (5) mixed credit lines; (6) fraudulent accounts or transactions; (7) identity theft; and (8) mistakenly reported as deceased. 

  1. Identity Errors

Identity errors include mistakes in your identity information, such as your personal details like your name, address, date of birth, marital status, gender, nationality, contact details, and the like. It may also include mixing your account with another person who bears the same name or a misspelled similar name.

  1. Account Errors

Account errors refer to the following instances: (a) open accounts which have been inadvertently reported as closed or close accounts reported as open; (b) accounts where you are reported as the owner when you are merely an authorized user of said account. (c) accounts which received timely payments but were reported as delinquent; (d) accounts which contained receipts of inaccurate information such as the opening date of the account, the date of last payment made, or the date of recorded delinquency; and (e) accounts with inaccurate payment histories.

  1. Balance Errors

Balance errors point to accounts containing an inaccurate current balance and are most often listed with incorrect credit limits.

  1. Duplication Errors

Duplication errors refer to debts listed more than once where payment has already been made or it can also point to debts repeatedly listed under different names or creditors.

  1. Mixed Credit Lines

Mixed credit lines refer to owning different ranges of credit accounts on your credit report. This includes the following: (a) revolving accounts which have a credit limit that can be used repeatedly but require a monthly full payment; (b) installment accounts with a fixed interest rate over time such as mortgages and vehicle loans that require a specific amount to pay at an agreed payment interval; and (c) open credit accounts such as utility bills or debt collections that require payment in full every month.

  1. Fraudulent Accounts or Transactions

Fraudulent accounts or transactions are errors where unknown accounts, which contain unknown transactions, are listed in your name. 

  1. Identity Theft

Identity theft refers to someone using your personal information and private financial information, without your knowledge and consent, to apply for multiple accounts in a short period, which can decrease the average age of your credit accounts. All payment for transactions and charges are made to rest on you. These include bills for purchases, debt collection, loan payment demandable, or unfamiliar accounts on your credit report. 

  1. Mistakenly Reported as Deceased

Mistakenly reported as deceased must be addressed immediately because this status can lead to a credit score drop, inability to apply for credit or services that require a credit check.

Process on Disputing the Credit Card Report Inaccuracies

The dispute process for correcting your credit card report inaccuracies depends on the kind of inaccuracy you find yourself in. Generally, however, these are the steps to follow once you discover inaccuracies in your credit report.

  1. Identify the error and notify the credit bureau- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion- which sent you your credit report. Use the contact information of the credit bureau found on your credit report. Notification may either be by snail mail, electronic mail, by phone, or in-person visit. However, it is preferable to send your dispute through snail mail and electronic mail so that you have proof that you filed your dispute and can return to this when you need to review the dispute timeline.

  2. Provide a detailed explanation in writing of your dispute. Point out the inaccuracies in the credit report and explain clearly the error. Support your dispute with documents to avoid any misunderstanding or misappreciation of the facts surrounding the claim.

  3. Write your contact information such as your email address, mobile phone number, or fax number on your written correspondence so that the credit bureau can communicate with you concerning your dispute after its investigation.

  4. Send another mail to the furnisher which provided the inaccurate information to the credit bureau. Request the furnisher to send the correct information so that your claim can be resolved swiftly.

  5. If the credit card report inaccuracy rests on identity theft, inform the credit bureau that you are a victim of this, and request the bureau to place fraud alerts and credit freezes on your accounts. Then, report this to the Federal Trade Commission online at IdentityTheft.gov or call 1-877-438-4338 for prompt action. 

  6. If the credit report inaccuracy is on you mistakenly reported as deceased, act immediately. Apply to correct the error and show proof of life such as a notarized letter attesting to your current existence and government issued identification on hold e.g. passport, state-issued driver’s license, state-issued photo IDs, DMV issued card, and the like. Dispute the notation. Call the Social Security Administration (SSA) and alert them of this mistake. 

  7. Wait for the completion of the investigation. The credit bureau has 30-45 days to investigate the dispute and the supporting evidence you presented. After it completes its investigation, it sends you the results in writing as well as a free copy of your credit report.

  8. Upon receipt of the report, read this carefully and check whether the credit bureau answers your dispute, addresses the inaccuracies, and updates or corrects the inaccuracies.

  9. Watch out for updates to your credit report. Do not expect an immediate change to take place because the credit report changes may take time to reflect. The changes are dependent on the credit bureau’s update cycle and furnishers to send new information.

  10. If the updates on your credit report are not reflected after a passage of several months, communicate with the credit bureau and furnishers by mail. Remind them to update immediately to ensure an accurate reporting of your account information.

Follow these steps carefully so that you recover your credit standing and credit score. While it is true that a credit report inaccuracy may be reported at any time, it is equally true that a prompt report of the same is better. To do nothing on an identified credit report inaccuracy is to find yourself stuck to claim the same and dispute it; the pressures of work may relegate this urgency to your farthest priorities. Act and immediately take steps to dispute the inaccuracies.

Consequences of Failure to Dispute Credit Report Inaccuracies

These are the common consequences for your failure to dispute your credit report errors.

First, inaccuracies in your credit card report lead to lower credit scores. Second, lower credit scores result in higher interest rates on loans, denial of credit, difficulty in securing housing, or finding employment. Third, it can increase the resolution of identity theft. 

The unauthorized multiple accounts using your name and your financial data will result in lower credit scores, which in turn will directly affect your financial reputation. Every credit report inquiry will lower your credit scores. Your failure to dispute these inaccuracies will affect the process of resolving fraudulent transactions and charges on these multiple accounts. 

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Consumer’s Credit Rights

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that ensures the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in consumer credit reports. It governs the manner how credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – collect, share information and history of consumers such as bill payment history, past loans, current debts, employment history, child support, and arrest record. They also compute the consumers’ credit scores and length of time they retained these data. 

The consumers have free access to their own annual credit reports. However, these credit reports are not absolute and infallible; the consumers can file their disputes to the credit bureaus should they see any inaccuracies on these reports. Furthermore, consumers also enjoy these key rights: (1) disclosure rights; (2) credit score request; (3) dispute rights; (4) correction of information; (5) limitation on reporting; (6) access limitation; (7) consent requirement; (8) opt-out provision; and (9) security freeze.

  1. Disclosure Rights

No person or agency is allowed to use and release your credit report or any consumer report information about you to another person, company, or financial institution for the purpose of denying or rejecting your application for credit, insurance, or employment, without your permission and consent. You have the right to demand the name and personal pertinent information of the person or agency that provided that information.

  1. Credit Score Request

Your credit score report contains numerical summaries of your credit worthiness from your credit bureau. However, requesting for a credit score does not come free, you have to pay for it.

  1. Dispute Rights

You can dispute any incomplete or inaccurate information on your credit report.

  1. Correction of Information

You request for a correction of information, which are inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable, on the credit report to avoid the use of these information against you when applying for credit or any transaction. The information pointed out must be removed, amended, revised, or corrected within 30 days from the date of receipt of notification of the credit bureau.

  1. Limitation on Reporting

A credit bureau provides information about your credit history and credit score only to those who have a valid reason for access to your information, such as your creditor, insurer, landlord, lessor, employer, or business partners. However, such access must have your permission and consent for its release.

  1. Access Limitation

Unsolicited offers from credit cards, insurance plans, or mobile phone carriers may reach you when you least expect them to. You can always opt out and demand the removal of your name and address from the lists through calling the nationwide credit bureaus number 1-888-567-8688.

  1. Consent Requirement

You must give consent for your credit report to be revealed to an employer, potential employer, or any interested person. For more comprehensive information on this right, go to www.consumerfinance.gov/learnmore.

  1. Opt-Out Provision

The opt-out provision means that you make a timely decision not to participate in a product advertisement, to purchase or to subscribe to a product. You have five different opportunities for opting out: (a) snail mail, where you have 30 days from the date of notice to opt out by any reasonable means from the list; (b) electronic means, where you have 30 days from the date of notice of the email to opt out by any reasonable means; (c) at the time of the electronic transaction, when you decide to discontinue with the transaction, and you choose to opt out before its completion; (4) at the time of an in-person transaction, where you decide to opt out from the physical  transaction, such as ticking a box in the completion paper form rejecting the transaction; and (5) by including in a privacy notice, where you select to opt out within a reasonable period of time in the manner provided in the opt-out provision.

  1. Security or Credit Freeze

It not only prevents your prospective creditors from accessing your credit file without your consent but also it stops you or the identity thief from opening multiple accounts in your name to acquire credit loans and approval of specific services. When this is in place, a suspected identity theft situation is immediately stopped. However, a freeze does not mean you acquire a higher credit score; it only means that the freeze will have blocked your credit score from the imposition of regular charges. 

Credit Report Dispute 

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides you the right to dispute your credit report inaccuracies. The process involves communication of your specific dispute to your credit bureau: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. More specifically, the procedural steps are as follows: (1) written communication with the credit bureau; (2) pertinent information in your dispute letter; and (3) written communication to the furnishers.

  1. First, identify the credit bureau which handles your credit report: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Write a dispute letter. Clearly explain the inaccuracies in your credit report, provide the material and relevant documents to support your dispute, and state concisely and precisely your reason for disputing the credit report inaccuracies. The written correspondence should be simple, concise, and persuasive; avoid long run-on sentences and long-winded paragraphs peppered with adjectives and adverbs. Be concrete and specific in pointing out these credit report inaccuracies for easy reading; ensure the accuracy of your documents substantiating the inaccuracies for faster identification of points to guide the investigation of your dispute. Then send your dispute letter through electronic mail with the supporting documents as attachments. Also, using the regular postal services, mail this to your credit bureau through certified mail with a return receipt for proof of delivery. 

  2. Second, provide the pertinent information in your dispute letter. These information include the following: (1) personal information such as your full name as it is written in your credit card information, your home address or office address where you received the credit report, and your mobile number or phone number; (2) credit report confirmation number written in the credit report; (3) details of the inaccuracies or errors in the credit report and the account number of the disputed account; (4) clear, specific, and concrete explanation of the reason for the credit report dispute; (5) specific relief expected to be done, such as the removal of the information  or correction of the disputed inaccuracies; and a (6) list of inclusions or attachments of your supporting documents to substantiate your credit report dispute claim as well as a copy of the portion of the credit report highlighting the inaccuracies.

  3. Third, send a written communication to the furnishers who provide the information to your credit bureau. Write a dispute letter directly to these furnishers and attach all pertinent documents to substantiate your claim for correction or removal of information from their lists.

Keep all these written correspondence and copies of the supporting documents in a separate file for easy access. Then, keep the file in a safe and secure place to avoid loss of the contents and/or damage or destruction of these documents either through fortuitous events, man-made or otherwise.

These are the information you will need to communicate with your credit reporting bureau: (1) Equifax; (2) Experian; or (3) TransUnion.

For Equifax, download the Equifax Dispute Form and fill in all required information. Send the completed form by mail to Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta GA 30374. You may also call the phone number found on your credit report or call (866) 349-5191.

For Experian, download the Experian Dispute Form and fill in all required information. Send the completed form by mail to Experian, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013. You may also call the phone number found on your credit report or call (888) 397-3742.

For TransUnion, download the TransUnion Dispute Form and fill in all required information. Send the completed form by mail to TransUnion Consumer Solutions, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016-2000. You may also call the phone number found on your credit report or call (800) 916-8800 Monday-Friday, 8.00am to 11.00pm ET or Saturday and Sunday 8.00am to 5.00pm ET.

Duration of the Credit Report Inaccuracies Dispute 

The filing of a credit report dispute is merely the start of the process. The duration includes three phases: (1) receipt of the dispute letter and its supporting documents; (2) investigation of the dispute; and (3) resolution of the credit report dispute.

First, upon receipt of your dispute letter and its supporting documents, the credit bureau commences its investigation. It will notify you of its receipt of your correspondence and the expected duration it will take to resolve the dispute.

Second, the investigation generally takes 30 days; however, when it requires more information and documents from you, it may take longer with its investigation but it does not go beyond 45 days or about six weeks depending on the nature of the inaccuracies you presented. 

If the inaccuracy in dispute is not a credit item but a piece of your personal data, such as  misspelling of your name, an incorrect street address or misspelling of your address, an error on your Social Security Number, or other government-issued identification, then the credit bureau can resolve these inaccuracies by updating this corrected information within a week or seven days. 

If the inaccuracy in dispute, however, involves your credit payment history, which requires verification from furnishers, then it will take longer than seven days. The credit bureau must notify the furnishers within five days counted from the date of receipt of your written dispute; the furnishers in turn must respond to the query from the credit bureau. Generally, the furnishers respond immediately so that the credit bureau will have ample time to meet the 30-day investigation period. However, if it takes the furnishers more time to respond to the credit bureau’s query within the time frame specifically given by the FCRA, then the disputed item may be removed. However, when the furnishers send its response verifying the account information, this late response will be re-written to your credit history.

Third, the resolution of the credit report inaccuracies may either be to affirm the existence of the inaccuracies and provide the remedy or to deny the dispute and your credit scores are affected. The furnishers verify the accuracy and veracity of the information it sent to the credit bureau concerning the disputed credit report inaccuracy. Hence, the disputed item remains unchanged. An affirmative resolution, however, shows the inaccuracy as correct, then it will remove the item from your credit report.

Responsibilities of the Credit Bureaus Upon Receipt of a Dispute Notification

Credit bureaus hold a crucial role in your financial standing in the world of credit cards and credit scores; hence, they must ensure a most accurate report to the consumers. Upon receipt of your credit report dispute, the concerned credit bureau handling your credit report performs these actions: (1) sorts the category of the dispute; (2) investigates the alleged credit report inaccuracies; (3) provides a timely resolution; (4) reports the result; and (5) corrects or updates the inaccuracies.

  1. Upon receipt of the notification of your dispute concerning credit report inaccuracies, the credit bureau that furnishes you the credit report, sorts the dispute according to complexity as (a) simple; (b) complex or moderately complex; or (c) highly technical.

  1. Simple disputes refer to straightforward errors or inaccuracies such as incorrect personal information, errors in account status, and payment history inconsistencies. The resolutions are quick and the updating or corrections of data are fast.

  2. Complex or moderately complex disputes concern more detailed claims. These include account ownership, identity-theft related claims, and mixed files. The latter involves a claim that another person’s information is listed in your credit report. Complex or moderately complex disputes require careful investigation that leaves no room for unanswered questions as well as additional documentation or evidence to substantiate the accuracy and veracity of your dispute vis-à-vis those of the information from the furnishers.

  3. Highly technical disputes refer to intricate legal or technical matters. These disputes include disputing outdated information which may run alongside or contrary to the Statute of Limitations, credit report violations which involve violations of the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), and complex account histories, which point to disputes about specific transactions and charges. The resolution of these disputes often requires legal representation whose expertise is along this area as well as proper documentation of relevant and material evidence to support the dispute.

  1. The credit bureau investigates the alleged credit report inaccuracies. It delves into the accuracy of the information concerning the inaccuracies by communicating with the furnishers within five days from its receipt of the credit report dispute to verify the accuracy of the furnishers’ report to it. The furnishes must respond immediately so that the credit bureau will have sufficient time to continue its investigation within the 30-day period or within the extended 45-day period following the time frame requirement of FCRA. Should the furnishers’ response be tardy, the credit bureau must provide a provisional finding and resolution to the dispute; however, upon receipt of the furnishers’ response it may reverse its earlier provisional findings and acknowledge the new findings. 

  2. The credit bureau must resolve the dispute within a reasonably specific timeframe of 30 days or 45 days depending on the complexity of the dispute. 

  3. The results must be reported to you after the credit bureau completes its investigation. Generally, it takes the credit bureau to send you its report within five business days from the completion of its investigation.

  4. The credit bureau must correct or update the inaccuracies to avoid any financial inconvenience to the consumer within a reasonable timeframe. This guarantees the accurate and current information in your credit report to warrant that you avoid any effects of the credit report inaccuracies on your credit standing.

Denial of Credit Report Dispute 

Should you disagree with the resolution of the credit bureau, you may still avail of these options: (1) You can communicate directly with the furnishers to seek corrections of the information they relayed to the credit bureau; (2) You can refile the dispute to the credit bureau and provide additional evidence to prove your claim. Avoid sending the same evidence because this will not change their earlier resolution; (3) You can add a statement of dispute or a note of protest to your credit report concerning your disagreement of the findings and resolution of the credit bureau. This will alert your creditors when they check on your credit. 

It may not increase your credit score but that notification will cement the existence of your dispute as well as warn the furnishers of a greater and longer dispute from you should another credit report inaccuracy appears bearing similarity to the first inaccuracy; and (4) as a last valid resort, you can also consider lodging your complaint of the credit report inaccuracy together with all your attachments to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or your state’s attorney general’s office. In this instance, you may hire a lawyer for legal representation.

Legal Action Against Credit Report Inaccuracies

After you comply with the process of filing a dispute on your credit report inaccuracies and the credit bureau denies your claim or refuses to correct the inaccuracies, you can resort to legal action to push your dispute for a more thorough investigation and more effective resolution. These parties can be held accountable: (1) credit bureaus; (2) furnishers of information; (3) identity thieves.

  1. Credit bureaus like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion officially gather and maintain credit reports. Select your credit bureau that typically sends you your annual credit report and provides your credit scores. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) protects your rights and sanctions the credit bureau as well as the furnishers for violations thereof. When your credit bureau fails to correct the inaccuracies, then you can sue them and seek monetary damages either to compensate you or to penalize the credit bureau or both. Monetary damages include (a) actual damages or compensatory damages and (b) punitive damages or additional monetary compensation.

  1. Actual damages or compensatory damages refer to direct financial losses you suffered because of the credit report inaccuracies resulting in a lower credit score. These damages intend to return you to the condition where you were before experiencing a loss or the consequences thereof. These include lower credit scores, which lead to your inability of limited capacity to use your credit cards for purchases or for additional loans and mortgages. The court assesses the monetary award for actual damages through your supporting evidence which you presented in the lawsuit.

  2. Punitive damages or additional monetary compensation aims to penalize the credit bureau to prevent or correct its behavior that led to the lawsuit. The court considers the facts, the credit bureau’s negligence or recklessness of the conduct of its investigation and the actual damages granted.

  1. The furnishers who provide the credit bureaus information on your credit history are liable for the inaccuracies in your credit report, which in turn has a hand in lowering your credit scores and the financial constraints that follow. They are directly liable for damages because of this inaccurate information. However, ensure that you follow this process for a court action against the furnishers: (a) evaluation of the inaccuracies; (b) communicate with the furnishers; (c) file with the small claims court; (d) send notice of court action; (d) prepare for court hearing; (e) specify the relief sought.

  1. It is necessary that you evaluate carefully the credit report inaccuracies you discovered in your annual credit report from the credit bureau. Mostly, these inaccuracies rest on warranty, failure to update the information promptly to the credit bureau, and incorrect account details, which include your payment history, current balance of payment, and incorrect account status.

  2. Promptly communicate with the furnishers concerning the credit report inaccuracies from the credit bureau. When it is possible, resolve the inaccuracies with the furnishers within this level. You can save on time, energy, and money when the furnishers investigate and correct these inaccuracies. Remind the furnishers that their failure to conduct a thorough investigation on the matter of these credit report inaccuracies may be considered negligent and reckless and that you are compelled to seek legal representation and present them with a lawsuit. 

  1. Where small claims courts exist in your state, file your legal action in these courts. A small claims court is a state-level court that has jurisdiction over legal claims within a specific statutory threshold, such as claims not to exceed US$5000. This court provides a legal venue as well as the best forum concerning disputes requiring small monetary claims such as consumer complaints, debt collection, contract disputes, property damage claims, lease or rental disputes, and the like. The proceedings are informal, the parties to a claim often represent themselves, and the rules on evidence are relaxed compared to the higher-level courts. Generally, you and the furnishers agree to settle the dispute on the inaccuracies found on your credit report. However, if you both fail to reach an agreement, then the court holds a hearing. The judgment and the enforcement of judgment on this level are similar to the higher courts.

  2. Serve the notice of court action to the furnishers either through the use of a certified mail or the court servers. Your failure to serve notice is a fatal defect and may cause your loss in your lawsuit.

  3. Prepare for the small claims court hearing. You must attend all court hearings; otherwise, the court may decide that you are uninterested to continue or pursue your claim and dismiss it. You may also be presented with a counter claim from the furnishers for your malicious actions to discredit or malign their standing as legitimate and credible furnishers of information to the credit bureaus, present your case, cite the specific credit card report inaccuracies which the furnishers have sent to the credit bureau as well as all the material and relevant evidence to prove these inaccuracies. Explain carefully and clearly how the inaccurate information which they sent to the credit bureau proved detrimental to your financial stability in the credit world.

  4. Relief sought refers to you seeking monetary redress in the form of damages, actual damages and/or punitive damages, for the harm these credit report inaccuracies affected your reputation and your finances

Final Thoughts

Since the annual credit reports from your credit bureau are significant to your financial well-being, it is important that you take these steps to address any credit report inaccuracies at the soonest possible time. First, always review your credit report. Do not assume that the written details are accurate. Check this report thoroughly for inaccuracies or incorrect or outdated information. Second, identify the inaccuracies such as your personal information and account information. The latter includes discrepancies in your account status, payment history, outstanding balances, and credit limits. Third, upon sighting of inaccuracies in your credit report, immediately file your dispute within 30 days of this discovery. Attach all the necessary documentation to substantiate your claim. However, if the 30-day period has lapsed, request a new credit report from your credit bureau. If the same inaccuracies are still present, file your dispute within 30 days from the receipt of the new credit report. 

Addressing your credit report inaccuracies punctually will lessen the burden of addressing it at a later time. The former guarantees a prompt resolution where you will avoid the ill-effects of your credit score and financial capacity to continue with your credit standing; the latter increases the probability that you may receive a lower credit score or even find yourself banned from acquiring new credit cards for new financial needs.

Contact a Credit Report Dispute Lawyer

It is important that you contact a qualified credit report dispute lawyer to help you as soon as possible. The credit reporting agencies will take you seriously once you retain a lawyer. The experienced attorneys at DebitCardLawyer.com are here to help fix your credit report and get you damages. We only charge a fee if you win. Otherwise, we won’t charge you a penny.

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