From time to time, you might notice an error or inaccuracy on your credit report. Those are always bad signs – after all, even a single inaccurate error could cause your credit score to dip unexpectedly, preventing you from qualifying for the best loans.
You need to know how long a credit dispute takes so you know what to expect when you file a dispute letter with the credit bureau(s) responsible for the problem. Let’s take a closer look.
A credit dispute is any situation where you dispute the current records shown on your credit report.
Imagine that you check your credit score and find that it's lower than it should be since you pay all your bills on time and don't have any excessive loans. When you investigate your credit report, you find a few debts listed under your name that you never took out. Upon further investigation, you figure that those debts were inaccurately filed under your name because you share a name with someone else.
To solve the matter, you begin a credit dispute by filing a credit dispute letter with one or more credit bureaus. Credit disputes can be time-consuming, but they’re often necessary to ensure your credit score is as strong as it should be.
You might need to file a credit dispute for a variety of reasons, including:
In any of these situations, it’s important to begin a credit dispute quickly so your credit score can recover as rapidly as possible.
Depending on a variety of factors, a typical credit dispute will take anywhere from two weeks to six weeks to complete. Let’s dive deeper into each stage of the credit dispute process.
When you write a credit dispute letter to the credit bureaus, they won't begin the investigation process until they receive the dispute letter and an agent has time to overview your information.
If you file a dispute online, the credit bureaus receive your information immediately. If you file a dispute with a handwritten letter, be sure to allow for 3 to 5 business days for your letter to reach its destination.
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA, the credit bureaus must investigate any disputes they receive within 30 days. Therefore, each credit bureau has one month from receiving your credit dispute letter to:
If a credit bureau doesn’t perform and complete an investigation within 30 days, you could have grounds for legal action, as the credit bureaus are technically violating your consumer rights.
There's one exception to the above-mentioned deadline: when you submit extra backup documentation to the credit bureau after you have already submitted a dispute. For instance, if a credit bureau checks your information but requests another document to verify what you say is true, the bureau then gets another 15 days added to its investigation timeline. This totals 45 days or approximately six weeks.
Once a credit bureau makes a decision regarding your credit dispute, they should send you a response within 1 to 2 business days. This can be sent via letter or email, depending on how you initially filed the dispute. Again, if you file your dispute with a physical letter, expect a few days of travel time to be added to your overall timeline.
As you can see from the timeline breakdown, most credit disputes take anywhere from two weeks to six weeks. There are some situations where that might extend up to eight weeks, though this is rare.
In the vast majority of cases, credit disputes take less than a month to complete, especially if the filer begins the dispute online.
There are ways you can accelerate the credit dispute process, which can be helpful if you want your credit score to be restored to its rightful number ASAP. For example:
In general, you should expect any credit dispute to take between two weeks and six weeks at maximum. The credit bureaus have to investigate any dispute you bring to their attention within 30 days; add a few extra days on either end to account for letter travel time, and you have a rough timeline for how long you’ll have to wait before a credit dispute is resolved one way or the other.