Budgeting Credit Debt

How To Write a Dispute Letter

Have you recently found some inaccurate information on your credit report? If so, you are probably looking for ways to rectify the situation, which would start with a dispute. Here, you will learn how to write a dispute letter and what to include so you can get your credit report back on track. 

Can I Dispute Credit Reports?

Yes! If you find inaccurate information on your credit report, you are entitled to file a dispute. An incorrect account containing information or activity that isn’t explicitly yours can end up causing you quite a bit of financial trouble. For example, say an account not belonging to you but in your name goes into delinquency. Any debt associated with that account may be sent to a debt collection agency or debt collector and wrongfully connected to you. To avoid getting unwanted calls from debt collectors, dispute any account or activity not belonging to you right away. 

In many cases, you should see an improvement in your credit report after a successful dispute

What Kind of Information Can I Dispute on My Credit Report? 

You can dispute any inaccurate information you find listed on your credit report. Inaccurate information may be a sign of identity theft which is essential to rectify ASAP. 

Unfortunately, you cannot dispute just any negative information associated with your credit profile. Late payments or delinquent accounts may only be disputed if they are reported on incorrectly. 

Below is more info on data you would want to dispute on your credit report. 

Unwanted Account Opened in Your Name

If an incorrect account is listed on your credit report, meaning there is a financial account open in your name but not under your control, any red flag behavior committed by an unknown third party may be associated with you and your name. If you notice an unfamiliar account on your credit report, dispute it right away before it has the chance to affect you negatively. 

Incorrect Address Listed on Account

Similar to your name, confirm the address listed with each financial account is correct. If the wrong address happens to be listed with an account, creditors may associate any mortgages or foreclosures connected to those addresses with your and your finances. 

Make sure your addresses are correct and consistent throughout all your financial accounts. Check accounts like: 

Payments Incorrectly Labeled as Late

Some financial companies allow borrowers to make late or partial payments without penalty if they first discuss the situation with a loan officer. If you’ve made an arrangement like this and made a payment late with the permission of your lender, you should not see delinquency on your credit report. Furthermore, you should never see a late payment penalty on your report if you’ve never paid a bill or loan after its due date. If you do, make sure you dispute the penalty. When you do so, make sure you have documentation as proof of your timely payment. 

You can prove payment history by showing bank statements, credit card statements, or even transaction history connected to your bank account. 

False Declaration of Bankruptcy 

Bankruptcy is an official declaration that an individual no longer has the means to take care of any financial obligations listed in their name. These obligations would include expenditures like housing costs, living expenses, and generally any bills or loans. Bankruptcy can stay on a credit report for many years and may hinder the ability to find an approval for loans or other financial products for quite some time. Due to the severity of these setbacks, it’s important to ensure there is no false information regarding bankruptcy declarations associated with your finances. 

What To Include in a Credit Report Dispute Letter | Free Dispute Letter Template

To ensure accuracy and efficiency with your dispute letter, include as much information as possible and make sure everything is correct. The more details given about an incorrect credit report entry, the quicker it can be resolved. 

Your dispute letter to the credit reporting agency should include the following information: 

  • Full legal name, including your first, last, and middle name. 
  • Date of birth. 
  • Social security number.
  • Your current address, any addresses you’ve had in the previous two years. 
  • A government-issued photo I.D. (like a passport or driver’s license). 
  • Utility bill, bank statement, or insurance statement. 
  • Complete information about the inaccurate credit reporting, along with an associated account number. 

You can purchase dispute letter templates online, but this is not necessary. As long as you include all the appropriate information, there is no need to buy an official template. 

How Can I Send a Credit Dispute Letter?

How does disputing information on your credit report work? After you have gathered all the appropriate information, it’s time to send your letter to the appropriate credit bureau. You can send a dispute letter to any credit bureau via certified mail or online. You can also contact Experian via the telephone. 

The fastest way to have your dispute letter reviewed by a credit bureau would be to send it virtually. That way your letter will be delivered almost instantly. 

However, if you want to contact a credit bureau via the mail or phone, you can find more specific information below: 

Equifax mailing address:

Equifax Information Services, LLC

P.O. Box 740256

Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Experian mailing address:

Experian

P.O. Box 4500

Allen, TX 75013

Experian phone number:

888-EXPERIAN

TransUnion mailing address:

TransUnion Consumer Solutions 

P.O. Box 200

Chester, PA 19016

What Happens After I Submit My Credit Dispute Letter?

After you have submitted your dispute letter, the credit agency will begin an investigation. This investigation will include contacting the original creditor and requesting information on your account. Depending on the severity of your claim, the investigation may take up to 30 days to complete. During this time, you may want to freeze credit reports for all three bureaus until the situation is resolved. 

Next, the credit agency will present the creditor with the information you provided and ask the creditor to either confirm or deny that it is accurate. If the lender finds that there are credit reporting errors, they are required by federal law to contact all three major credit bureaus with the corrected data. Lastly, the agency will have a return receipt requested to serve as proof of the error being fixed. 

Keep in mind that you may not see an immediate change in your credit report after sending your dispute letter. Allow a few months to go by before rechecking your score. This gives a bit of time for the lender to fix the correct information and submit the updated results to the appropriate credit bureaus. 

Why Submit a Credit Dispute Letter?

Inaccurate information on your credit report can end up lowering your credit score if left unchecked. Maintaining good credit is important because it plays a huge role in determining what kinds of loan products you may find an approval for, how much money you may receive, what interest rates you may be paired with, and more. 

Whenever you apply for a loan or financial product, the lender will request an official copy of your credit report. If there is incorrect information listed on your report, the lender may deny your application based on information that isn’t even yours! 

What Is a Credit Bureau?

Credit bureaus are a reporting agency that collects data on your financial behaviors and habits. This collection of data is meant to be a representation of how financially responsible and trustworthy you are. Lenders use information from credit bureaus when deciding if they are going to approve a loan applicant for funding or not.

The company names of the three major credit reporting agencies are: 

  • Experian.
  • Equifax.
  • TransUnion.

What Are My Legal Rights When It Comes to Credit Bureaus? 

In 1970, the U.S. government enacted the Fair Credit Reporting Act, also referred to as the FRCA. The FRCA regulates credit bureaus and helps ensure fair debt collection practices. Under this federal law, American consumers were granted the right to one free copy of their credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies. 

Fun fact: credit report dispute letters are sometimes called 609 dispute letters. This is because it is section 609 in the FRCA that discusses each American consumer’s right to dispute incorrect information on their credit report. 

The FRCA also gives consumers the right to dispute any inaccurate information on their credit report, have it investigated, and have the incorrect info promptly removed from the appropriate credit report should the disputed claims be proven correct.

This right is part of the reason why it is so important to check your credit reports frequently; to ensure the accuracy of your financial information.

You can get a copy of your credit report for free online once a year with Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. You may also view an unofficial copy of your credit report for free at any time via most online bank or credit card accounts. 

References: 
How to Write a Credit Dispute Letter – Experian
How to Dispute Credit Report Information By Mail | Equifax®
How To Dispute Your Debt and Win Against Collectors & Creditors