Your credit health is an important factor in how comfortably you will be able to live your life. This number determines what kind of car you will drive, where you live, and even the kind of job you can get. Keeping track of your score and the accuracy of your report is essential to maintaining a favorable score.
Finding and disputing errors is critical to maintaining a healthy score. In recent years consumers have brought this into focus more than they did previously. It has been reported that from March to July 2020, credit report disputes and grievances skyrocketed to 86%. Many of these issues were attributed to pandemic spending. If you see a range of errors on your report, you may need the help of a San Antonio consumer dispute attorney.
Take these steps to dispute credit report errors
There are six main steps to disputing an error on your credit report. Keep in mind that you will have to address those errors with each credit bureau individually. There are also times when you will need a San Antonio consumer dispute attorney to help you.
Review your report
First and foremost, you need to review your credit report. You can request a free copy of your reports from all three major bureaus. You cannot fix something if you do not know it is broken. You should get into the habit of checking your report on a regular basis and you may need to check your report more frequently throughout the year depending on your individual circumstances. (This is especially true if you are applying for a loan or are at risk of identity theft.) You should look for the following when reviewing your report:
- Incorrect identity details
- Duplicate accounts
- Accounts that you do not own
- Improperly marked accounts
- Accounts that say you are the owner instead of authorized user
- Incorrect balances
- Unauthorized credit inquiries
- Late or delinquent accounts that are misreported
- Public records that do not belong to you
Prepare to dispute
You will need to be discerning about what errors you want to dispute first. Focus on errors that make a substantial impact on your credit report before minor details that have no impact.
Once you have determined where you want to start, you must gather the following documents to prepare your official dispute:
- Documents with your correct address and name such as an ID
- Canceled checks
- Student loan disability letters
- Current bank statements
- Court documents
- Relief program agreements
- Correction letters from the lender
- Letters showing an account was corrected
- Proof of identity theft, especially related to a specific account
Filing the dispute with credit bureaus
Once you have gathered all the necessary documents, you can file a dispute online, through the phone, or by mail. You will need to create a dispute letter and include a copy of the inaccurate information on your report. Each reporting agency will have a slightly different process but filing a dispute is free for all of the bureaus.
Contact the data furnisher
While filing a dispute and correcting errors with credit bureaus is one step, you may also need to correct these errors with the data furnisher. They are the source of the information and report information to credit bureaus. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides free instructions to do this, as well as free template letter.
Now comes the waiting period. Once you file disputes, you will need to wait for a response. Typically, a response will come within 30 to 45 days depending on the agency and data furnisher. The credit bureau will need to provide you with the results of their investigation within five days of their determination. Possible outcomes include:
- Updates to your credit report
- No change to your report
- Deleted information from your report
You will obtain information on each dispute. You can dispute the error again if you did not get the desired outcome from the first dispute.
Review your new report
The credit bureau will send you a copy of your new report. This allows you to ensure that the error has been removed and the mistakes are gone. You should continue to monitor your report for errors and credit score changes.
Types of credit report disputes
There are different types of disputes and results you can see from these disputes.
When you dispute a public account the account can be updated. This means that the information is updated or the information has been verified as accurate. The dispute can be deleted from your report. If it has been processed it was updated or deleted from your credit report. One final outcome is that it remains, meaning the information is accurate and therefore it is left unchanged.
Personal information or inquiry
Similar to a public account dispute, personal information disputes can be updated, deleted, processed, or remain. Other outcomes can include added items, where items are added to your credit report. You may also have an address updated which means your incorrect address is deleted and replaced with your current address.
When should I hire a lawyer for my credit report dispute?
If you can fix your own credit, do you even need a consumer protection lawyer? You may, if you are facing multiple errors across all three credit bureaus, or if they refuse to fix those errors after you have tried everything in your power to get them corrected. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) give you the right to dur for damages if the reporting bureau, furnishers, or other applicable entities willfully violate their obligations to you. If you were the victim of “false, misleading, and deceptive business practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty” which led to your error-laden credit report, or if you were a victim of identity theft, you may be able to hold the companies/individuals responsible for that report through the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA). A San Antonio consumer dispute attorney from Grable Grimshaw can help.
You have legal options if your credit report reflects multiple inaccuracies or evidence of identity theft, but this can be a long and arduous process without the help of an attorney. The attorneys at Grable Grimshaw, PLLC are here to protect consumers from deceptive and fraudulent tactics from companies and businesses. Call us at 210-963-5297, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation in San Antonio.