What Happens When I Dispute Something on my Credit Report?

You would likely be surprised at the number of people who have checked their credit report and found inaccurate information. Finding a mistake on your report can be frustrating, but do you know what to do if you find such an error? We will not only explain what inaccuracies are, but what to happens when you dispute something on your credit report.

Introduction

As we mentioned, a surprising number of credit reports contain errors or inaccurate information. These errors can not only be frustrating, but they can also have a negative impact on your score — so it’s important to take care of them right away. Submitting a dispute to the credit bureau is the first step — but what comes next? And what effect does a dispute have on your credit score?

Before we get started, let’s take a closer look at the number of people who have found inaccurate information on their credit report.

Percentage of Consumers with Inaccuracies on Credit Reports


Credit RangeInaccuracies on credit report
Poor33%
Fair29%
Good33%
Very Good 1%
Excellent0.5%
Source: Credit Sesame surveyed 2500 people who check their credit report. The study was conducted February of 2018.

As you can see above, a shocking number of people have inaccurate information on their credit report — more than 1 in 3 among those with fair and poor credit. What’s more, inaccuracies tend to be more common in lower credit score ranges, likely due (at least in part) to these inaccuracies dragging credit scores down.

Why is disputing an error on your credit report important?

Your credit score is a direct reflection of the information contained in your credit report. And there are few numbers that impact your life to the degree which your credit score does. Think about it — your credit score is used to determine so many things. For instance, the interest rates that you pay on your credit cards and loans, whether you can afford to buy a new car, the type of house you can afford, whether or not you get approved for a new apartment or a new job — and the list goes on and on.

To think of this in a more practical manner, we broke down the interest rate ranges for different credit score ranks. As you can see, the interest rates for those with poor credit are substantially higher than those with better credit. For instance, if you’re in the market for a car, you could expect an interest rate of 3.6 percent if you have exceptional credit. However, if you have poor credit, the interest rate for the same loan would be more than 15% — and that’s even if you can get approved for the loan in the first place.

Interest Rate Ranges for Different Credit Score Ranks


Type of LoanPoor CreditFair CreditGood CreditVery Good CreditExcellent
Credit
30 Year Fixed Mortgage Interest Rate6.352%5.588%5.158%4.767%4.545%
Car Loan Interest Rate15.24%14.06%7.02%4.95%3.60%
Credit Card Interest Rate24.9%17.6%14.9%12.2%13.9%
Source: Credit Sesame asked 400 members about their interest rates during a three week period beginning in September 18, 2018.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what interest rates look like for different credit score ranges, what does that mean in actual savings. The graph below shows just how much money you could save, or inversely pay, depending on your credit score.

Interest rate comparison for excellent and bad credit


Type of LoanBad CreditTotal LoanExcellent Credit`Total LoanDifference
30 Year Fixed Mortgage Interest Rate
$244,368 House
6.352%$547,511.134.545%$448,098.92$99,412.21
Car Loan Interest Rate
$19,500 Car
15.24%$27,9823.60%$21,337$6,645
Credit Card Interest Rate
$5,000 Balance
17.6%$6,496.0412.9%$6,000.28$495.76
Source: Credit Sesame asked 400 members about their interest rates during a three week period beginning in September 18, 2018.

If you’re applying for a 30-year fixed mortgage to purchase a $244,368 house, it would benefit you to make sure that your credit is in top shape before turning in those applications. Why? Because with bad credit, the interest rate on your mortgage loan could be higher than 6.3 percent. With excellent credit, this number is cut to just over 4.5 percent. And while that may not sound like a big difference, over the course of the mortgage, it adds up to paying nearly $100,000 more — for the same house. When dealing with loans, having bad credit can literally cost you

How to dispute an error on your credit report

There are two main ways to dispute errors: with the bureau or with the creditor. Here, we’ll look at each of these options, so that you can decide which would be best for your circumstances.

Filing disputes with the credit bureaus

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can have errors removed by submitting a written credit report dispute. Once you submit your report, the bureau must investigate within 30 days (another 15 days if you send in additional information). From there, the bureau notifies the furnisher or supplier of the information, who then has 5 days to dispute your claim. The furnisher must review and investigate and send their findings to the bureau. If the bureau finds the false information found in your credit report to be inaccurate or unverifiable, it will be removed or corrected.

Let’s take a closer look at consumers who filed a dispute with a credit bureau, along with what kind of results they saw.

Percent of US consumers who filed a dispute with the credit bureau, and the outcome


Individuals SurveyedFiled a DisputePercent Resolved in favor of consumerTime to decision
US Consumers3.1%17.5%60 Days
Members3.9%20%45 Days
Non-Members1.3%15%75 Days
Source: Credit Sesame asked 1200 US consumers, both members and non-members about their credit report during a three week period beginning in September 18, 2018.

As you can see, of the 1,200 consumers we talked to, not many had filed a dispute with a credit bureau. Of those who had filed a dispute, more than 17% received a decision in their favor. It is also worth noting that the resolution didn’t happen overnight — these disputes took an average of 60 days to resolve. Being a member helped, partially because Credit Sesame provides the information that makes disputing easier. Also our members tend to check their credit reports frequently, whereas non-members may not. If you do not check your credit report, you will not know if there is an error that needs to be disputed.

But are there any other, or better, options out there?

Filing disputes with creditors

If the dispute is not corrected via the process above, you can also try filing a dispute directly with the creditor or furnisher. By law, you have a right to dispute the accuracy of any information on your credit report with the company that reported the information. To do this, simply send a letter disputing the specified information and the creditor, the company that provided the information to the credit bureaus, must investigate your claim. Keep in mind that you will want to double check that you are using the correct address, because if the creditor specifies a particular address for receiving disputes, you must send your dispute letter to that address or else they can say they never received it, or it could take much longer for your letter to get to the responsible department.

So what kind of results did people who took this route see? Let’s take a look:

Percent of US consumers who filed a dispute with creditor directly, and the outcome

Individuals SurveyedFiled a DisputePercent ResolvedTime to decision
US Consumers2.0%32%30 Days
Members3.2%40%22.5 Days
Non-Members.8%24%37.5 Days
Source: Credit Sesame asked 1200 US consumers, both members and non-members about their credit report during a three week period beginning in September 18, 2018.

Again, you can see that not many of the people we talked to had filed a dispute directly with the creditor. However, among those who had, filing a dispute directly with the creditor yielded better — and faster — results. By comparison, an average of 32% of those who filed a dispute saw a decision in their favor. And what’s more, the time to reach that decision was cut in half — just 30 days, rather than the 60 days it took when filing a dispute with the credit bureau.

Again you see that Credit Sesame members tend to have a better resolution rate, faster decision time, and are more often to file a dispute in the first place than non-members.

But what happens if the decision does not go in your favor, or if the information in your credit report is not corrected?

Equifax dispute
Transunion dispute
Experian dispute
Free credit report

What happens if the dispute is not corrected

If you are not satisfied with the resolution of your dispute, you have the option to submit a 100-word statement to be added to your credit report. Think of this as your chance to give your side of the story, and explain what happened. For instance, if a medical issue or setback caused you to make several late payments, you can explain this — and also reassure any potential creditors that you have since regained financial control.

However, if not done properly, these statements can actually do more harm than good. For instance, this is not the time or place to try using humor to your advantage — so leave out anything that is not relevant to that specific claim, such as the anecdote about how you were at a bachelor party in Vegas and forgot to make your credit card payment.

You also have the right to file a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if you feel the bureau has violated the law while processing your dispute. If you feel you need additional help, consider speaking with a consumer rights attorney.

We talked with Credit Sesame member, Tyler, about his experience disputing errors on his credit report. Here’s his story:

Tyler disputed errors on his credit report
Description: Tyler is a 45-year-old who works construction in Des Moines, Iowa. He never really thought about his credit report until he wanted to buy a house for his family. While his wife had good credit, she did not have a high paying job and so the mortgage company required a joint application. When they ran Tyler’s credit score, they found it to be fair. Although they were denied the loan, Tyler was able to request a free credit report and found two major errors that impacted his credit score.

FactorUpdate DateChangeScore
Denied a mortgage and received a free credit reportDecember 2017 0699
Reported incorrect information to credit bureauJanuary 20180699
Reported old debts to credit bureauFebruary 20180699
Reported duplicate account to credit bureauFebruary 20180699
Received positive resolution on incorrect informationMarch 2018+16715
Received positive resolution on duplicate accountsMay 2018+21736
Received no resolution on old debtsMay 20180736
Reported old debts to creditorJune 20180736
Received positive resolution on old debtsJuly 2018+29765
Checked his score before applying againAugust 20180765
Source: We ran the survey and collected different cases from our members between September 2017 and September 2018.

As you can see the process is not immediate, but Tyler was able to remedy some of the errors found on his credit report. When one came back from the credit bureau in the creditors favor, Tyler turned around and submitted a dispute directly with the creditor, who realized the error and removed it.

Conclusion & summary

To quickly summarize, a startling number of credit reports contain errors — as many as 39%. Given the importance of your credit to your overall financial health, it is crucial to dispute any inaccuracies you may find in your credit report in a timely manner. You can file a dispute with either the credit bureau or the creditor, although filing a dispute with the creditor directly often results in better, and faster, outcomes.

If you’re concerned about your credit you can check your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus for free once a year. To monitor your credit more closely, sign up for our free credit monitoring service and use our guides to help your score improve.

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved.
Published February 12, 2013 Updated: February 21, 2019
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