Credit can be a blessing or it can be a curse. When trying to clean up your credit report and reported credit history, you will probably end up filing a few disputes. These disputes will be with one of the three primary credit bureaus, and each dispute must have an answer, particularly if that answer might affect your credit one way or the other.
If you’ve recently filed some disputes, you should be ready to deal with the response from the credit bureaus, whatever it may be. Getting errors fixed on your credit report can be maddening, and sometimes the response you get from the bureau won’t make sense or will indicate something other than the information you have.
We’re going to take a look at what the various responses you could receive are, and how to understand, deal with, and follow up on them. Every consumer has the right to a fair and accurate credit report on them, and while fair can be a bit ambiguous sometimes, accurate isn’t.
How Each Bureau Handles Your Recent Dispute
The first thing you should know is how your dispute gets handled by each bureau once you open it. Each company deals with disputes differently, and that can mean the difference between an easy dispute and a challenging one.
Filing a dispute with Experian will cause them to immediately reach out to the credit entity that gave them the report. This may be the creditor, but it may also be a debt collector or someone in a similar capacity. Once they are contacted, they will have 30-45 days from the date your dispute was submitted to respond to the dispute.
The exact time limit may be shorter depending on what state you live in. When they receive the response, they will then contact you with the results as well as what action, if any, they are taking as a result.
When you file a dispute with Equifax, they will notify you of the results of the dispute within 30 days, though most are resolved in 10 days or less. Equifax offers a feature that the other two bureaus don’t, however, if you open a dispute on something and then your credit gets pulled, the item being disputed will be notated on the report that it is part of an open dispute.
This feature alone can be an incredibly valuable benefit if the consumer has damaged credit that is being worked on, and they apply to open a new account. The creditor will be able to see on the report that there are items on the report that are part of a consumer dispute investigation, which may help them to make a better decision regarding the new line of credit.
When you open a dispute with TransUnion, they follow up directly with the entity that originally reported the information. They take into account information you have provided to them as well as by the creditor, and the bureau will then make a final decision.
In most cases, you’ll hear back from your TransUnion dispute in 30 days or less, though in some cases and locations it may take as much as 45 days. They do not note your file when any particular item is under investigation, and they claim they will automatically update the information if they don’t get a response from the entity that reported it.
The Most Common Credit Dispute Responses
When you open a dispute, you will receive some form of response or action from the reporting bureau that you filed the dispute with. They range from no response at all, which should result in the information being removed, to letters that will detail the status of the investigation.
Before you start down the warpath after getting a response you didn’t like from a dispute that you felt was valid. The credit bureaus are publicly-traded companies that have employees that they train to act on disputes. These employees are required to respond to disputes in a limited number of ways, according to the information they are given, to any dispute they receive.
One of the most common responses is no response at all. The FCRA, or the Fair Credit Reporting Act, says that disputes must be answered in 30 days, and bureaus that fail to meet that criteria can be punished. They must at least respond to you in 30 days, and if they fail in that, the disputed item is required to be removed. If this doesn’t happen, the bureau is then in violation of the FCRA.
While this doesn’t mean you’re about to file charges and take the whole system down, it does mean that you have significantly more leverage with the creditor or bureau when you deal with them regarding the credit item. If you find yourself in this position, send the bureau a follow-up letter via certified or registered mail, that asks them to remove the listing per their legal obligation.
There is a couple of different types of rejection letters that you might encounter, and both of them mean you’ll need to start from square one. The first type is a rejection on the grounds that the dispute is frivolous or irrelevant. This means that the bureau has seen you use a duplicate reason in your dispute filings, and has tagged your dispute as frivolous. If it didn’t work the first time, don’t use it again. However, it cannot be marked as irrelevant if you use a different dispute reason.
You will always have the opportunity to re-dispute the file if you can use a different reason, but you cannot use the same reason more than once if it’s been decided on already. If you feel they are refusing to investigate, you could also send registered or certified mail asking them for more details about the case. This is often a long and tedious process, however, and most people will simply submit a new dispute.
The other type of rejection letter is one that states the bureau thinks you are trying to manipulate the system by using a debt elimination or credit repair company. This is not uncommon, and to continue you’ll simply need to file another dispute. You can reject their finding, and demand another dispute, and you just want your report to be corrected and accurate.
Letter Telling You The Investigation Has Begun
Not all bureaus will send you a letter indicating that the investigation has started, but in most cases, TransUnion will. They use communications as a way to extend their time to investigate the issue being disputed. They will send the letters as a way to tell you the dispute may take longer than 30 days, and if you respond to the letter you will give them more time to investigate. Add the letter to your documentation about your credit repair and just watch the item.
Letter Telling You Your Dispute Has Been Forwarded Or Reassigned
You may get a letter telling you that your dispute has been reassigned or forwarded to the proper bureau. This often happens when there is a dispute that is kicked down to a regional or local credit bureau office. The dispute will be sent to them to be verified or investigated, and you will be notified of the forwarding. This will add at least two weeks to your planned dispute timetable, but it could also mean that your dispute is found in your favor, which is always good news.
An Entirely New Credit Report That Reflects The Investigation
One of the best responses you can get may seem a little enigmatic to some, while others will know exactly what it means immediately. If you are sent a new copy of your credit report, this is the best result you could have hoped for, because it means the bureau found in your favor regarding the dispute, and removed or corrected the item in question.
Be sure you comb that credit report closely and look for any other changes or errors. Pay close attention to the item that was in the dispute, don’t simply take it for granted that it has been removed. Once you’ve verified that the item has been handled, make a note of any other errors or inaccuracies you find, and dispute those next.
How Long Does Credit Repair With Disputes Take?
In most cases, you’ll have to wait about 30 days to hear back about a dispute. With some bureaus, you may be able to hear back in less than two weeks, but don’t hold your breath. Depending on how vigorous you are with disputes, you may be able to see a considerable increase in your credit score in less than six months.
In other cases, however, you’ll likely see the majority of your efforts come to fruition after about a year. It all comes down to what you want your credit for, and what the person reading the report is going to think of your creditworthiness. Either way, keep up your efforts, and you’ll be able to enjoy better credit before you know it.