One of the realities of your financial life is that a mistake on your credit report can negatively impact your credit score. If an inaccurate item on your credit report is dragging on your credit score, it can make it more difficult to qualify for the loan you want. And, even if you do qualify for the loan you want, you might not be able to secure the best terms. This can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
It’s a good idea to periodically check your credit report, and then correct mistakes as you find them. If you correct an error on your report, it has the potential to help you boost your credit score — without the need for credit repair services.
How to Dispute an Item on Your Credit Report
First of all, you need to make sure that the item in question is truly inaccurate. Even if you have a negative item on your credit report, the credit bureau doesn’t have to remove it if it is accurate. So, before you initiate the dispute, you need to make sure that you are in the right, and that the item is an error.
Once you have verified that the item is an error, you can start the process:
- Write a letter to the credit bureau reporting the inaccuracy. You will need to write a letter to each credit bureau individually if the error is repeated on different reports. The letter should specifically identify the error, and provide information about why it is wrong, and that you would like it removed or changed.
- Include documentation supporting your position. Many people choose to make a copy of the credit report, and circle the offending item, in order to make things more clear. You should also include copies (never send original documents) of items that support you, such as bank statements or receipts that show a payment date.
- Send the letter via Certified Mail. This costs extra, but it’s worth it. This requires the credit bureau to sign for the letter, and you receive acknowledgement that the letter was received, along with the date and time it was signed for.
- Contact your creditor if you want. You don’t have to do this, but it can speed up the process if you contact your creditor and ask that the situation be looked at. If your creditor knows of the situation, and sees that you are in the right, the whole thing can be resolved that much quicker.
- Follow up after a few weeks. The law requires that credit bureaus fix mistakes in a timely manner. Find out what the decision was, and check your credit report to see if the error has been fixed. If the credit bureaus rejects the change, you have the right to include a statement in your file, explaining your case. You can also ask the credit bureau to reconsider.
You don’t have to pay for someone else to take these steps, although there are services out there that can help you with this type of credit repair. Consider your situation and your needs, and whether or not this is something you want to handle on your own.