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How To Dispute Items on Your Credit

When disputing information you will have a choice to dispute the item online or by mail. Filing online is fast and easy, and you don’t have to spring for a stamp, but you’ll want to make the extra effort to mail your complaint if:

It doesn’t fall neatly into one of the CRA’s dispute categories. If you dispute it online, you’ll likely have to choose a reason for the dispute from a menu that gives you a few standard choices. If you need to provide a more detailed explanation, a letter may be your best bet.

You’re giving up your rights online. Before you dispute a credit report mistake online, read the website terms and conditions to make sure you aren’t agreeing to mandatory binding arbitration, which means you forfeit your right to have your day in court if it is not resolved.

You have proof of your side of the story. If you have documentation that the information is wrong, you’ll want to include it in your written dispute.

This is your second attempt to get it right. If you received a response from the credit reporting agency that says the data is correct, but you know it’s not, you may want to follow up with a letter.

If you can, opt for the letter. 
Always send written disputes by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy for your records. You may even want to get your letter notarized if you really want the CRA’s attention.

Wait For a Response

The CRA or furnisher has 30 days to get back to you with a response. If the information is corrected or deleted, you're done. If not, go to the next step.

Escalate Your Dispute

If you are told the information is correct, but you know it’s wrong, you’ll need to escalate your dispute. Send a letter to the CRA and/or furnisher stating why you believe the conclusion is wrong, and CC: the Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Send copies of your dispute to those agencies.

Talk with a Consumer Law Attorney

If your attempts to fix the problem don’t work, then you may want to talk with a consumer law attorney with experience in consumer credit disputes. The website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates <http://www.consumeradvocates.org/> is a good place to start.

Keep Records of Your Dispute

Put all your records of your dispute (copies if your credit reports, letters of correspondence, printed copies of emails or online responses, etc.) into a file and put it in a place where you can get to it if the same data appears on your file again.  If there are ever any questions, you will have proof of what you have done.
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