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Understand Response From Credit Agencies

Written by: Kristy Welsh

Last Updated: March 25, 2017

The most basic and important step in credit repair is sending a credit dispute letter to the credit reporting bureaus such as TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Legally, you can dispute any inaccurate information found on your credit report and the way to do that is through a credit dispute letter. After you've mailed your dispute letter to the credit bureaus and sent it certified and return receipt requested, now the waiting begins.

Fast forward 30 days from when the credit bureau received your letter (as dated on your return receipt postcard), which is the maximum amount of time the credit bureau has to respond to your dispute. You've gotten no response or maybe you've gotten a perplexing response and you want to understand what it means.

Typical Credit Reporting Bureau Responses

You will receive one of the following responses to your dispute.

  1. No response at all.
  2. A rejection letter on the grounds that the dispute is frivolous or irrelevant.
  3. A rejection letter based on the grounds the credit bureau believes you are manipulating the system.
  4. A letter announcing an investigation into your dispute has begun.
  5. A letter announcing your dispute has been forwarded to the appropriate credit bureau.
  6. A new credit report showing the results of an investigation.

You should keep in mind the credit bureau is a for-profit company with employees trained to respond in a limited number of ways to any dispute they receive. They are not considering each dispute independently for a unique solution. If you stamp out a ferocious counter-letter in response to the credit bureau's rejection, the credit bureau employee has seen it all and will not change their position. Usually, it is better to simply write the dispute again.

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Here are the basic guidelines for reacting to the results of your dispute request.

  1. No response at all.  If it's been 30 days after you've sent in your dispute, the credit bureau is in hot water. According to federal credit law spelled out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a credit bureau is required to respond to you and complete their investigation within 30 days. If they do not respond within this time frame, they must remove the negative listing disputed. If they do not, they are in violation of the FCRA. This is good news for you, for you can pressure the credit bureau to remove the listing immediately. You now need to send them a follow up letter, reminding them of their legal obligations. Here is a sample letter to use and be sure to send it certified or registered and return receipt requested. Again, retain a copy of the letter, as well as the return receipt when you receive it.
  2. A rejection based on the grounds that the dispute is frivolous or irrelevant.  If this dispute request is the second, third or even forth dispute for a negative listing, you can't use any dispute that you've used in the past. If you used a duplicate reason, the credit bureau has every right to classify your dispute frivolous. Re-dispute the listing giving a different reason in this case. If you are truly surprised at the frivolous or irrelevant designation, you can write them a letter requesting why they have refused to investigate. However, the best and most expedient thing to do would be to re-dispute giving a new dispute reason.
  3. Credit bureau thinks a credit repair company submitted the dispute. The credit bureau believes that you are manipulating the system by using a credit repair company, and rejects your dispute. Reject this implication and insist in another dispute, that the credit bureau is shirking their responsibilities and that they are taking a very unwise risk in rejecting your dispute. All you want is for your credit report to be properly corrected.
  4. A letter announcing that an investigation has begun. TransUnion will usually send these letters as a clever way of extending their investigation period. You really have no choice but to accept their timetable. Don't respond to this letter, it will allow them more time to investigate. Just place the letter in the file and watch closely for their response.
  5. A letter announcing that your dispute has been forwarded to the appropriate credit bureau. If there is a local credit bureau involved in your dispute, the main credit bureau will forward your dispute to that bureau for verification. Count on an additional two week delay when this occurs.
  6. A new credit report showing the results of an investigation. This is the desired result. When you receive your new report, you should copy and carefully analyze the credit report for deletions or changes.

Restoring your credit can takes months and there really isn't a quick way to do credit repair - contrary to what you might hear from some credit repair companies. If you decided to repair your own credit, you should surmise from this article that you will encounter delays. If you need to clean up your credit quickly to secure a loan, don't get too frustrated as you may encounter these delays. Keep on keeping on and you will eventually get the negative items off of your credit report. It will all be worth the extra effort in the end when you can apply for that loan and get a great deal on an interest rate.