Gorski Law
Pennylvania & New Jersey Consumer Rights Law Firm
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Credit Report Disputes

Find out how to handle errors on your credit report and what your rights are when things go wrong.

DisputING An Error on Your CREDIT Report

Dispute To The Credit Reporting Agencies

When you have an error on your credit report, your first intuition may be to take the issue up with the creditor or collector directly. Although the law does require creditors and collectors to accept and investigate your dispute, the law limits the liability of the creditors, collectors and credit reporting agency if the investigation is mishandled.  The best approach is to wage the dispute directly with the credit reporting agencies. The agencies are not only obliged to conduct an investigation on their own, they are also required to forward the dispute to creditors and collectors who are likewise obliged to conduct their own investigation. Additionally, if the investigation is mishandled after you wage the dispute with the credit reporting agencies, that creditor, collector and the credit reporting agencies may be held legally responsible.

Dispute To Each Credit Reporting Agency That Is Reporting The Error

Another common inclination that consumers have is to send a dispute to only one credit reporting agency that is reporting the error when the error appears on more than one agency's report. Although the law does require creditors, collectors and consumer reporting agencies to notify other agencies of corrections or deletions of errors once recognized, this doesn't always happen. On the contrary, it is fairly common that creditors and collectors and consumer reporting agencies do not update other agencies about the error. Disputing to each agency that is reporting the error helps to resolve the problem more quickly. It also ensures that any agency that continues to report errors after you dispute faces legal responsibility for failing to correct the error.

Consider The Pros & Cons Of How You Choose To Dispute

All three credit reporting agencies allow you to dispute errors online, by telephone or by mail. Each approach has pros and cons that you should consider before deciding which approach is best for you.

Online Disputes
Disputing online can be one of the fastest ways to get an error corrected because of the automated nature of submitting the dispute in this manner. It also can be one of the easiest ways to dispute if you are comfortable using a computer.  The downsides of online disputes is that the substance of your dispute can be misinterpreted because the dispute format only gives you limited choices as the reason for you dispute and a limited amount to space to write an explanation. It is also not as simple to attach documents to your dispute as it otherwise might be if you were disputing in writing. The process of disputing online can also become more tedious if you are disputing more than one account or item on your report.

Written Disputes
Disputing in writing can be tedious, but is ordinarily the best format to provide more detailed information to the credit reporting agencies, creditors and collectors with a letter explaining the problem a list of the errors and any supporting documentation that you have that confirms the error. A written dispute may be prudent if you have disputed once online already without success or if your dispute is more complicated and can't easily be lumped into a generic category. This method also tends to lead to the slowest response time for the obvious reasons related to the time it takes to mail things and the time it takes the agency to process your dispute and enter it into their dispute systems.

Telephone Disputes
Disputing by telephone has been widely criticized in the media. Criticisms include: getting lost in automated attendant prompts; long wait times; and unhelpful representatives. This method is usually the least effective way to communicate your dispute as it is ripe for misinterpretation by the agencies' represenatives and it does not provide you with an easy way to submit supporting documents. Disputing by telephone is usually not a good option unless you lack access to a computer and for one reason or another cannot prepare a written dispute.

Follow Each Agency's Dispute Procedures

Once you decide how you are going to dispute, follow the agency's procedures for waging a dispute. Follow the links below to receive information on how to dispute with each specific credit reporting agency:

Document The Steps You Take To Dispute

If something goes wrong and the errors on your report are not corrected, you want to have the appropriate documentation to show that you waged a reasonable dispute. If you dispute online, take screenshots of the dispute screens and keep any email correspondence you receive from the agencies after your dispute is submitted. If you dispute in writing, make a photocopy of the letter you prepare and any supporting documents you send. Also, send the dispute to the credit reporting agency via certified mail or in some other manner that proves the dispute was received by the agency. When you receive results, either by mail or by accessing the results online, keep copies of the results.

Understand the Timeframe For Getting A Response

Once the credit reporting agency receives your dispute it has 30 days to provide you with a response commonly called an "investigation result."  The response will inform you if the accounts and items that you disputed were deleted, updated or remain the same.  The response will either be mailed to you or you will be able to access the response online if you waged an online dispute.  If you do not receive a response to the dispute, the credit reporting agency can be held legally responsible for failing to do so. If you receive a response indicating that the error will remain on your report or the agency does not effectively correct the error, you should consider consulting a lawyer.

Do You Need Help?

If you have an error on your credit report, Gorski Law may be able to help. Gorski Law can remove errors from your credit report and obtain compensation for any harm you have experienced as a result of any errors. Initial consultations are always free. Call 215-330-2100 or email the firm to schedule a consultation now. 

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