From time to time, you may need to know how to file a credit report dispute. Disputing a credit report could be necessary if you discover inaccurate or out-of-date information on your report. But like many other things, timing is everything. In fact, when you dispute a credit report can matter just as much as disputing it in the first place.
Let’s break down the best time to dispute a credit report in detail.
A credit report dispute involves you filing a dispute letter with a credit bureau or credit reporting agency (CRA), such as Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax. Under the terms of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you have the right to dispute erroneous or inaccurate information at any time.
For instance, say that you take a look at your credit report from Experian. Unfortunately, you discover that there's an out-of-date line item – a debt that you previously paid off the year before. This inaccurate line item is dragging down your credit score.
To resolve the issue, you can file a credit report dispute with Experian. According to the FCRA, Experian will have 30 days upon receiving your dispute letter to investigate the issue and correct any erroneous information. If Experian doesn’t perform an investigation, or if it doesn’t fix inaccurate info, you could have grounds for a lawsuit or other legal action.
A credit report dispute is typically comprised of a few major steps:
Naturally, the best time to dispute a credit report is as soon as you see something wrong with it! There’s no time limit or forced waiting period you have to sit through before you can file a dispute with a credit reporting agency or credit furnisher.
As soon as you notice out-of-date, inaccurate, or mistaken information on your credit report, you can begin the process of disputing it. This is always the best idea; if left unchecked, those errors can follow you around for a while or even spread to other credit bureaus and consumer reporting agencies.
Even worse, inaccurate, negative line item information can cause your credit score to decrease by several points over time. Even if the inaccurate information is fixed later down the line, your credit score may not recover immediately or for some time to come.
A low credit score can limit your financial opportunities, your job prospects, and so on. Bottom line: you should dispute a credit report as soon as you feel you need to.
However, you’ll only know that it’s time to dispute a credit report if you know that there’s an error in the first place.
Fortunately, the FCRA says that all consumers have the right to one free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus each year. Therefore, you can and should take advantage of these free credit reports. For the best results, and to avoid having to pay extra money, you can space out your free credit report redemptions.
For instance, you can check one bureau’s credit report in spring, another in fall, and another in winter. If you notice an error on one report, there’s a good chance the same error is on the others, so you’ll know to pull the reports from the other bureaus and double-check them as well.
In any case, make it a habit to review your credit reports regularly. The more you keep an eye on your credit information, the easier it will be to catch inaccurate information before it piles up and compounds.
It’s also a good idea to dispute credit reports when you notice issues because of the time it can take for your problem to be resolved.
Remember, a credit bureau or other CRA has 30 business days after receiving your dispute letter to investigate the matter. For example, say that you notice inaccurate information on your credit report on July 9. You send a dispute letter on July 10. Presuming that you sent the report electronically, the credit bureau of interest then has until August 10 to investigate the matter and correct any inaccurate information.
During that time, the inaccurate information can continue to affect your credit portfolio, your reputation, and your job and financial prospects. In addition, if the credit bureau needs additional information from you to identify the inaccurate information, the 30-day timeline is paused. That can also delay a resolution.
The average credit report dispute takes a few months to resolve from start to finish. Therefore, the earlier you get the process started, the better. If you work with skilled and specialized attorneys from the start, they can potentially accelerate this timeline by helping you get the ball rolling that much more quickly. On top of that, if there’s a delay, like a request for further information, they can help speed things along.
All in all, the best time to dispute a credit report is as soon as you notice an error. To that end, make sure you review your credit reports from each of the big three credit bureaus every few months. That way, you can catch any errors as they pop up.
As for actually filing your dispute, the knowledgeable attorneys at Fair Credit can help. Our specialized lawyers can help you determine where you should file your dispute and help you draft your dispute so it is as effective as possible. Contact us today to learn more.