What is a credit dispute letter?
If you don’t agree with the information contained on your credit report, or even if the item(s) are questionable, you can send a credit report dispute letter to the credit bureaus. By disputing an item, the credit bureau are obligated by law to investigate. They must either verify, correct, or delete the item from your record within 30 days. This type of letter is called a credit dispute letter.
Do credit dispute letters work?
Absolutely! If they are written correctly they can be highly effective in removing negative items from your credit reports and fixing bad credit.
Can I dispute my credit report online?
Yes, all 3 of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) offer online disputes at their websites. However, we highly advise against disputing online as it is not as effective, it limits your rights, it gives you less control, and you’re doing exactly what the credit bureaus want you to do. You’re playing into their hands and giving them the easy way out when you dispute online. Yes, you can still have some success in removing negative items by disputing online, however, it is NOT the best way.
Unfortunately, many people dispute online because some of the big “consumer advocate” sites like Credit Karma and Credit.com advocate it. Even The New York Times wrote an article encouraging it. There is plenty of misinformation online about credit repair and it’s placed there on purpose. Be careful of websites that pretend to try to help you, but are actually hurting your chances of raising your credit score while simultaneously helping the credit bureaus.
Credit repair experts NEVER dispute their clients’ credit reports online. They know it’s a big no-no. Please don’t be lazy if you’re going to repair your own credit; write a dispute letter.
Can I dispute my credit report over the phone?
Yes, you can do your disputes over the phone, but again, it’s not a wise decision. It’s almost as bad as disputing online. If you want the best chance of getting negative items removed from your credit report, write a letter.
What items can I dispute on my credit report?
Anything that is reported on your credit report can be disputed including personal information, credit inquiries, charge offs, collections, bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossessions, tax liens, judgments, etc.
Be very careful that you don’t dispute positive items on your credit report. Once they are removed, it’s pretty much impossible to get them back on your credit report. If you are not sure which items are negative and which are positive, you are not quite ready to send disputes to the credit bureaus yet. Make sure you completely understand what’s being reported on your credit report before starting the credit report dispute process.
How to write a credit dispute letter
When writing your dispute letter to a credit bureau, please remember these simple guidelines:
- In most cases, it’s unnecessary to mention laws, procedures, court rulings, or threaten law suits, etc. The credit bureaus know the law.
- Similarly, remember to be kind. Combative language doesn’t help and could hurt. You’re not going to scare the credit bureaus into doing anything.
- Include copies of information that supports your claims, but remember, anything you send them can also be used against you. Do not send original documents. Please be very careful with this one. If you’re not sure, don’t send it.
- Make it clear which item or items on your credit report you dispute. It’s not always necessary to tell them why you are disputing. The burden of proof is on them.
- Credit bureaus are not obligated to investigate requests that appear frivolous. Make sure your letter is understandable and concise. It’s a good idea to proofread the letter before you send it.
Note: Always include a photocopy of your driver’s license, state issued ID, or U.S. passport and a copy of your social security card, pay stub, W-2 or a recent utility bill. Only 2 forms of ID are required.
Sample Dispute Letter
Below is a sample dispute letter. Please remember that these letters are just examples. They are intended to give you an idea about what a dispute letter should look like and what it should contain. Tailor your letter to your specific circumstances. It’s always best to write the letter in your own words and know what you are doing. If you don’t know what you are doing, it is possible to make your credit situation worse.
Social Security number: [XXX-XX-XXXX]
Date of birth: [XX/XX/19XX]
P. O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Dear Credit Reporting Agency,
Please provide evidence the following account belongs on my report and that my rights have not been abrogated. In the event that no record exists, please delete this damaging account information.
Your report or confirmation number (if available).
Note: The above letter is for an Equifax dispute, but works for all three credit bureaus. Simply replace their name & address to do a TransUnion dispute or an Experian dispute based on the information listed below.
P. O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Make Sure You Know What You’re Doing!
It’s extremely important that you do this right as getting the home loan, car loan or even a new job can depend on it. We’ve worked with countless people who have made their credit even worse (in some cases much worse) because they didn’t know what they were doing. If you’re not careful you can unknowingly undermine your consumer rights and do irreversible damage to your credit by trying to save a few bucks doing it yourself.
Dealing with the credit bureaus can be intimidating and the constant back and forth with them can be quite time-consuming and frustrating. They don’t always respond with the desired outcome in which case, follow up letters are needed.
If you want to make sure it gets done right, let the professionals at Lexington Law take care of it for you. They have dealt with hundreds of thousands of clients and have many years of experience. They know how to deal with the credit bureaus when they don’t respond favorably. Call 800-220-0084 for a free consultation and complimentary credit score.