credit dispute letter

How to Write a Credit Dispute Letter That Works

So you found a negative item on your credit report. This item could be incorrectly reported or completely fabricated. The next course of action is to send a credit dispute letter to any credit bureaus that display the error.

This process sounds challenging, but it’s really not that difficult. You can write a successful credit dispute letter by mimicking proven approaches. Shape your credit repair letters accordingly and leave the rest in the hands of the credit bureaus.

Before Sending a Credit Dispute Letter

Step one is identifying the inaccuracies on your credit report. To do this, you should obtain a copy of each of your reports – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Look for any other of incorrect and fraudulent reporting instances. Pay close attention, even a difference in balances is something which should be disputed and corrected.

Getting a Copy of Your Credit Report

Go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com to request a copy of your credit file from each of the three major credit bureaus. This website is federally authorized to supply Americans with a free copy of each of their reports every single year. This service is enforced by the FTC, as part of the requirements for credit reporting agencies – in respect to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

You can request one free copy every 12 months. Do not use any other service to get your reports. If you already received a free copy, expect to spend approximately $15-25 per report.

There are some alternatives for ordering your reports. You can bundle all three and get your scores at the same time for $59.85 via myFICO Score 3B Report. Alternatively, you could invest in credit monitoring or identity theft protection. For instance, Identity Guard’s Total Protection identity theft protection plan costs $19.99 per month and comes with quarterly reports and scores.

Is Your Credit Dispute Due to Identity Theft?

If you are an identity theft victim, report it to your local police station and the FTC through their affidavit form at IdentityTheft.gov, and then notify the credit bureaus. They will be required to send you a free copy of your report. You can also request a fraud alert on your file – they will notify the two other bureaus for you.

Make sure to submit a copy of your identity theft affidavit and police report along with your credit repair letters. These enclosures will help back up your claims and make it easier for the agencies to reach a conclusion. In most cases, an identity theft claim that’s backed by proper documentation will result in a successful removal.

What Negative Items Can You Dispute?

The most obvious type of disputable item is an entry caused by identity theft. These cases are resolved with ease. When the entries are removed, their impact on your credit score subsequently goes away. The scenario is slightly different with other types of negative items.

Your credit file might contain an inaccurately reported debt. The creditor may not have notified the bureau when you paid off your account. It’s possible they chose the wrong status as well. For instance, the debt might be marked as settled instead of paid in full. Resolving these issues requires negotiation with the creditor (done by the bureau). If successful, your credit score could certainly go up.

Be warned, credit reporting mistakes do not always translate to higher scores. The impact totally depends on how old the entry is and to what extent it was wrongly filed. For instance, an account balance that’s $10 off won’t necessarily get removed from your report. These entries could be corrected, but such a little change will not impact your credit score.

Lastly, pay close attention when a creditor sells your debt to a collection agency. Sometimes additional fees will be piled onto the balance when it’s taken over by the purchasing party. In fact, some consumers have reported a doubling to tripling of their arrears balance. You can dispute these wrongly filed debts and by doing so there’s a strong chance it gets fully removed.

How Credit Repair Businesses Make Dispute Letters

The best way to learn how to craft credit dispute letters that work is by taking a professional approach. Hiring a credit repair specialist would be the best case scenario here. Falling short of that, you can mimic the efforts they make.

First off, look for credit dispute letter templates from credit repair businesses. Use them as your starting point. Make slight changes or reword the letter entirely so it’s unique. Personalize it and provide all the details about the error(s) you want fixed.

Proper Credit Dispute Letter Structure

Here’s a look at how to craft a successful credit dispute letter.

Step 1 – Identify Yourself

[Insert your name]

[Insert your date of birth]

[Insert your address]

[Insert your City, State, Zip Code]

[Insert the date]

Step 2 – Identify the Recipient

[Insert the name of the credit bureau]

[Insert the credit bureau’s address]

Dear [Insert the name of the credit bureau]:

Step 3 – Explain Your Dispute

[If multiple disputes, section each in numerical order]

[Insert the account number of the disputed item]

[Insert the dates pertaining to subject of dispute]

[Insert the details of the disputed item]

Step 4 – Attached Documents

[Insert a list explaining the attached documents]

Step 5 – Sign Off

[Insert a goodbye message and sign-off salutation]

Credit Dispute Letter Example

Now, to put it together, here’s a livelier version of that example…

John A. Doe

DOB 12-25

1 Main St

Brooklyn, NY 10044

TransUnion Consumer Solutions

P.O. Box 2000

Chester, PA 19016-2000

Dear TransUnion:

I am contacting in regards to wrongly reported entries on my TransUnion credit file:

Dispute 1

Account #: 1010-10101

Dates pertaining to subject of dispute: 06/05/2017

Details of the disputed item: This account that’s reported on my TransUnion file is not mine. This item is the result of an identity thief obtaining a credit card in my name. Please remove this account from my credit report.

Dispute 2

Account #: 0101-0101

Dates pertaining to subject of dispute: 06/09/2017

Details of the disputed item: This account that’s reported on my TransUnion file is not mine. This item is the result of an identity thief opening a fraudulent loan account in my name. Please remove this from my credit report.

Attached Documents

Copy of government-issued photo ID

Copy of FTC Identity Theft Affidavit

Copy of police report

Copy of FCRA Act (Section 611)

Thank you for seeing through this issue.

Kind regards,

John Doe

Submitting Your Credit Repair Letters

You can submit credit repair letters to the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) both online and offline. The various ways to send your credit dispute letter include fax, mail and online form submission. To begin, take a look below for the contact info for each bureau.

Note: While processing times vary, the investigation should happen within 30 days (by FTC standards) unless the dispute is “frivolous.” If the disputed account / debt cannot be verified, then it would be removed. You will receive a free credit report copy – separate from the one you get for free each year already. Plus, they’ll explain the conclusion of their investigation in a written letter.

FTC’s consumer information page on dispute letters will be a major resource for anyone looking to better understand the dispute letter process. Make sure to read this page to get familiar with the steps and timeline behind disputing inaccuracies on your credit report.

Dispute Letter Contact for Equifax

Send via mail to:

Equifax

P.O. Box 740256

Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Submit your dispute online:

https://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes#

Call a representative to report inaccuracies:

1-866-349-5191

Dispute Letter Contact for Experian

Send via mail to:

Experian

P.O. Box 9701

Allen, TX 75013

Submit online without a credit report copy:

https://www.experian.com/consumer/upload//

Submit online with a credit report copy:

https://www.experian.com/ncaconline/dispute

Dispute Letter Contact for TransUnion

Send via mail to:
TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000

Send by fax to:

1-610-546-4771
Attention: CCD (Consumer Contact Department)

Submit your dispute online:

https://dispute.transunion.com

Call a representative to report inaccuracies:

1-800-916-8800 (M-F, 8am to 11pm EST)

4 Common Credit Dispute Mistakes to Avoid

The last thing you want is to honestly report an inaccuracy or fraudulent entry on your report only to have the dispute rejected. This unfair result can happen if you take the wrong approach when requesting an investigation. Once your dispute letter is sent, it’s done – what you supply is what’s used for the bureau to reach their decision.

With that said, below is a list of fix common mistakes that consumers make when submitting credit repair letters. Take a look at each and make sure you avoid taking the same wrong approach when you make your claim.

  1. Failing to Give Specific Details

The credit dispute letter example given earlier shows how to handle an identity theft related dispute. This situation is a bit different – much of the explanation exists in the enclosed documents. You will want to write more details in your letter if your attached materials do not spell out the situation.

Remember, the more visual you are the better. Print off any proof you can provide. For instance, if you never opened an account that shows on your report – print your written or online communication to include in your enclosures. The more effort you make to document your claim, the greater chance the bureau sides with you.

  1. Skipping the Method of Verification Request

Let’s say the investigation into your dispute letter ends “verified,” meaning the credit bureau believes the entry is accurate. You can still push further if you believe otherwise. To do so, submit a Method of Verification form. As per the FCRA Act, the credit reporting agency must respond within 15 days.

You can request the following details:

  • The reporting company’s name, address and phone number
  • The person’s name at the credit bureau that verified the reporting business
  • The documentation evaluated to come to the verified result

If the bureau fails to comply, you have two courses of action:

  1. Threaten to sue the credit bureau for failing to comply with the FCRA Act (Section 616)
  2. Request a renewed investigation if the above information cannot be supplied

Make sure to submit an intent to sue letter along with your response to their refusal. If they comply with your request, but don’t supply info, the investigation will be reopened. The credit bureau will then have 30 days to get back to you on their new findings.

Further, you have even more power if you have proof the entry is inaccurate. Pair your intent to sue with your evidence and request the wrongfully entered info to be taken off your credit report.

3. Filing a Dispute at the Wrong Time

It seems like a no-brainer to file a dispute whenever you find a credit report error. The problem is the investigation period can hold back your creditworthiness. For instance, a mortgage provider might look at your pending dispute as a potential negative.

In fact, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both apply this logic – you might need to wait for the issue to resolve, or request manual processing which is slower. So if you plan to offer on a home right now – you might be better off waiting until you get financed to submit your credit repair letters.

4. Wrongly Disputing a Former Spouse’s Debt

Here’s an interesting tidbit. Say you and your spouse divorce. What happens if there’s a jointly reported account that’s no longer yours? Filing a dispute to remove this account from your credit report will not work by the standard steps. You need to provide a copy of your divorce decree along with your dispute for the removal to get approved.

Conclusion

Dealing with credit report errors can be a difficult task. That’s why credit repair companies are so popular. Needless to say, the largest point-of-failure is a poorly written credit dispute letter. Apply the guidance found here and report your report errors with credit dispute letters that work.