Credit Repair Credit Repair

Removing Negative Records

The Dispute Process

As you know, the FCRA law allows you to dispute any information on your credit report that is outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete. When you file a dispute to help with credit repair, the credit bureaus are required to conduct an investigation and report the results of that investigation in a timely and appropriate manner.

There is absolutely no charge for this service—it's your right as a credit consumer.

You may file a credit report dispute online, over the telephone, or by mail (see the Resource Library for letter templates). It is best to do everything in writing to create a document trail you can reference in case something goes wrong or gets lost. (You'll also get better results by submitting written requests for several more reasons I will describe in more detail below.) Send your letter by certified mail, return-receipt requested, so you can document that your dispute letter was mailed and when it was received. Always keep a photocopy of your dispute letter and any enclosures.

After you submit your dispute, the credit bureau will then contact the creditor who reported the disputed information. When the creditor receives a request for verification from the credit bureau, it must investigate the data, review all relevant information provided, and report the results of that investigation to the credit-reporting agency.

The credit bureau has 30 days to complete its investigation and another 7 days to notify you of the results. That's why you send dispute letters return-receipt requested: when the dispute letter is received, the clock starts ticking. If the credit bureau does not complete its investigation and notify you within 37 days of receiving your dispute—regardless of whether the entry is in fact valid—the entry must be removed from your credit file.

If the investigation and notification is completed within the required timeframe, your results will be one of the following:

  1. No change, along with a reason why the item is unchanged
  2. Updated, with new information
  3. Deleted (Yes!)

The credit bureau will also provide you with a free copy of your updated credit report if the dispute results in a change to your credit report.

If an entry is in any way changed or removed, the credit bureau is not allowed to put the information back on your credit report unless the creditor who provided the information later verifies its accuracy. In that case, the credit bureau is required to notify you, in writing, that the disputed data is being put back on your credit report (keep in mind, this rarely happens). They must also provide you with the name, address, and phone number of the company that submitted the verification.

You may also request that the credit bureau send notices of the corrections to anyone who reviewed your credit report within the last six months.

> Disputing Primary Creditor Records