Disputing Can Delay the Credit Approval Process
People commonly discover issues on their credit report when a lender or credit card company runs a credit check as part of a loan or card application. Perhaps your credit score isn’t as high as you thought it was due to late payments, high credit card balances or other factors. But what if you feel there’s information in your credit report that’s wrong? What if the high balances are on accounts you believe were opened fraudulently, or you’re confident the late payment being reported was sent on time? You can dispute the information, but you may have to put the credit approval process on hold.
It’s best not to dispute information on your credit report when you’re trying to apply for credit or a loan, especially a mortgage. Having an account in dispute on your credit report during the mortgage application process, for example, can prevent you from being approved for the loan until the dispute process is complete. For that reason, it’s a good idea to review your credit reports several months prior to making a major credit application. When you submit a dispute, the credit reporting agency will contact the information provider (typically a lender, credit card company or bank) to verify the information you’re disputing. If they can’t verify the information or they confirm an error, the item will be updated or removed. Information verified as accurate will remain on your credit report. Before you file a dispute, it’s important to know what can be disputed in the first place. Successful disputes typically involve inaccurate or incomplete information, including items such as:
Account information, such as closed accounts reported as open, timely payments incorrectly reported as delinquent, and inaccurate credit limits or account balances.
Fraud, including accounts opened as a result of identity theft or account balances that are the result of credit fraud.
There’s also information in your credit report that can’t be disputed at all (more on that later).
What if you’re a Victim of Identity Theft?
Finding unfamiliar credit inquiries, accounts and balance or payment information on your credit report could be evidence that someone you don’t know has opened accounts and run up debt in your name or that someone has gotten ahold of your credit card information and used it to make fraudulent charges on your account. If you find suspicious information on your credit report and believe you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, take these steps:
File a report with your local police department or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). IdentityTheft.gov, an FTC website, can walk you through the steps of dealing with identity theft.
Contact any lenders and credit card companies reporting accounts you don’t recognize. Explain that you are a victim of identity theft and ask that they close any unauthorized accounts, absolve you of responsibility for charges made and remove related information from your credit files. You can also ask that they refrain from furnishing further information about these accounts to any credit reporting agency. The FTC provides a templated letter you can use to submit your request in writing.
Contact any credit reporting agency where the fraudulent accounts appear to notify them of the fraud and begin the dispute process. You may be asked to provide documentation that supports the dispute.
In addition to resolving disputes, Experian offers help to victims of identity theft, including temporary fraud alerts and the ability to add an extended fraud victim alert that will stay on your reports for up to seven years.
How to file a dispute online
You can file a dispute over the phone or by mail, but the quickest and safest way to file a dispute is at the Experian Conflict Center online. To get started, click “Start a new online conflict”. When you sign in or create an account, your credit report will be directed from department to department. Following the warnings, identify the issues you want to discuss and select the causes of each conflict from the drop-down menu. You can also upload supporting documents, review the controversy, and submit them online. Once the dispute has been resolved and resolved, the Conflict Center will allow you to monitor your situation until it is resolved.
Items That Are Not Disputable
During the discussion, make sure that the items in your credit report are not controversial. You have a legal right to dispute much of the information in your credit report, but it contains information that is recorded as fact. For example, if it is the result of identity theft, credit searches cannot be disputed, and legitimate personal information such as your name and address is generally undisputed. Most likely, the actual data will not be deleted. You may shake the balance of your credit card account or you may have a good reason for late payment – but they are not sensitive as long as they are actually true. Even if your credit rating is not included in your credit report, it is easy to negotiate. Credit scores are based on the information in your credit report and are not measured by the same companies that maintain the reports. The factors that affect your credit account in the report may be disputed, but not the account itself. If you think you need to raise your credit ratings, learn how to measure these scores and take steps to improve them.
What if you disagree with the outcome of your argument?
If you have an argument with one (or all) of the credit bureau and you are not able to get the decision you want, please contact the source of the information being debated. It is a good idea to talk to your creditors and card issuers about any problems you may have, as they may want to work with you as a customer. Be prepared to state your position openly and submit your supporting documents. If you agree to the decision, your creditor may contact the credit bureau to cancel or update the information. Have you recently opened up more information or supporting documentation that can strengthen your business? You can return your argument as well as any evidence you have. Of course, sometimes arguments don’t go the way you want them to. If this happens, you can add a customer’s description to your credit report to get another idea. Although such a statement does not increase your credit or change the contents of your credit report, it may help the borrower to review your credit document to understand any mitigation measures that may apply.
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