What Is a Credit Dispute?
If you have regularly been checking your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus, you're likely on the lookout for negative information appearing on your reports. If and when you do come across such information, you may wonder what your options are to fix your credit reports. What do you do when you discover inaccurate negative information on your credit report? The answer is a credit dispute.
A credit bureau dispute is your way of notifying the specific credit bureau whose report contains the questionable information, that you are challenging the accuracy of this information. This dispute can take the form of a letter sent to the credit bureau, a phone call, or an online dispute submitted via the credit bureau's respective websites. By submitting a dispute, you are requesting that the credit bureau look into the accuracy of this information and, if they are unable to verify that the information is accurate, for them to correct the information or remove it from your credit report. Essentially, a dispute is a request sent to the credit bureaus for them to conduct an investigation of questionable information on your credit report.
Identify what information can be disputed
Not all information can be disputed. It is important to note that only information that is inaccurate, untimely, misleading, incomplete, ambiguous, unverifiable, biased, or unclear can be disputed. Anything that is accurate, even though it may be negative, cannot be formally disputed with the credit bureaus. For example, you may discover on one or all three of your credit reports information about a credit card you never had. You may find a misspelling of your name appearing on the list of alternative names you have gone by. You may see late payment information for a credit line that was never paid late, or you may see a line of credit still listed as open when you have had it closed. These are just some examples of questionable negative information on your credit report that may be harmfully affecting your credit and that would form the basis of your credit dispute(s).
It is important to dispute questionable negative information on your credit reports as this information can negatively impact your credit score. It is best to have your credit reports as accurate as possible before applying for a mortgage, car loan, insurance, or even a job. A lower credit score resulting from questionable negative information on your credit report can unfairly prevent you from qualifying for a loan, keep you from getting approved for a low interest rate, cause your car insurance premiums to increase, or come between you and a new job.