If you reviewed your credit report and found errors on it, it’s not the end of the world. The good thing is that you found the errors and now you can get to correct them.
There are actually two methods in which to dispute errors on your credit report. The results are the same, but the way in which you dispute the errors differ. You can dispute errors online or you can dispute the old fashion way through snail mail. Calling the credit reporting agencies to dispute errors on a credit report is not an option; that’s just a recipe for frustration.
Old-fashioned Snail Mail Credit Report Dispute
Whether you like to do it the old-fashioned way or the new fashioned way which is online you still have to go through your files and get documentation to support the fact that you found errors.
Go through your files and pull out documentation such as money order receipts, canceled checks, bank statements, credit card statements, loan satisfaction letters, correspondence to or from creditors, release of lien letters or anything that can prove that what is on your credit report is incorrect.
The good thing is that most banks and financial institutions have online record keeping so you can most probably download old statements right from the credit card company or bank (thus avoiding the necessity of having good bookkeeping skills).
Once you have your backup documentation, send a letter to the credit reporting agencies. If writing letters is tough for you, here’s a sample credit report dispute letter. The only item missing from this sample letter is the sender’s social security number. You want to make sure to include the pertinent information so that the reporting agencies will correct the right file. The more information you provide initially, the sooner the errors will be fixed.
Don’t forget to enclose copies of your backup documentation with the letter.
Just to make sure that it is received, it’s recommended to send a letter Certified Mail return Receipt Requested. This way you don’t have to wonder whether or not the credit reporting agency received your letter.
Disputing Credit Report Errors Online
Each of the credit reporting agencies offers the ability to dispute credit report information online. After accessing their website, if you have a hard time finding it use your browser’s Find feature (“CTRL” + “F” and type “Dispute”). After you find the link, complete the online dispute form.
You will need to convert your backup documentation into an electronic format. To do that you have to scan the documents and save them in a format that will allow you to upload it along with your dispute form. It could be .PDF or Word format, just as long as you can attach it to your claim.
If you have a scanner not to worry, office supply stores usually offer scanning services for a small fee.
Not Done Until the Credit Error is Resolved
Whether you filed your dispute via snail mail or online you must follow up with the credit reporting agencies. According to the Federal Trade Commission they have 30 days in which to investigate and respond as long as they don’t consider the dispute to be frivolous. They’re not required to investigate frivolous disputes.
More than likely you receive an answer in that period of time but if you don’t, follow up with them. Continue to follow up until the disputes are resolved.
Adding a Letter of Explanation
If you are not happy with the final outcome, you still have the option of attaching a letter of explanation to your credit file (make sure its added to all three credit reports). While it may not remove the negative item from your credit report, it can offer an explanation as to why the item was there. A derogatory with a plausible explanation is better than a derogatory item without one.