If you have a negative event listed in your credit report, you might be wondering how you should go about removing it. Perhaps this event occurred through no fault of your own, was accidental, or didn’t even happen at all.
When going through the credit repair process for the first time, there may be quite a few terms that are confusing and can hinder your progress.
This article goes over disputing, verification, and validation. Knowing these three terms and their differences can be extremely helpful when it comes to removing negative items from your credit report.
How Disputes Work
As you may know, there are three major credit reporting agencies in the U.S. Those three agencies are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Filing disputes for all of these agencies is done through a similar process.
In simple terms, a dispute is a claim made towards one or all of the credit reporting agencies stating that there is false or incorrect information on your credit report.
What is e-OSCAR?
When you submit a dispute to a credit bureau, oftentimes a program called e-OSCAR will scan and file the dispute electronically.
The e-OSCAR method of investigation is an automated third-party program that is used across every credit bureaus’ system. Every credit dispute received whether written, online, or over the phone is reduced to a three-digit code. This is even the case with a written dispute that provides supporting documents to verify your claims.
Once a three-digit code is produced, it is then sent to the furnisher of information to verify if it is accurate or not. This is the entire process in a nutshell. Unfortunately, this program does the bare minimum and won’t go much further than that.
Use Your Rights to Your Advantage
According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), credit bureaus are required to forward dispute information along with any proof that was submitted by the consumer to the furnisher of the information, which is usually the original creditor.
But because the system is heavily automated through the e-OSCAR system, in most cases, the only thing that’s investigated is the three-digit code that was produced.
With this in mind, it is critical to use every legal right that is provided to you as a consumer. The FCRA states that consumers have the right to know how a credit bureau verifies its disputes.
How the Method of Verification Works
If the credit bureau responds to your dispute saying that the item in question was “verified,” you have the right as a consumer to request how that item was verified by requesting the credit bureau’s “method of verification.” This right is outlined under the FCRA, Section 611 (a)(6) and (7).
Having outlined your right to request proof of their verification method, it is important to know that the credit bureau has 15 days to provide you with an answer to your request for their method of verification.
Asking for the credit bureau’s method of verification can provide you with a lot of leverage when disputing a negative claim on your credit report. In many cases, you might have threatened a lawsuit or to proceed with legal action if they refuse to comply with your request for a method of verification.
After you’ve mailed your dispute letter and received a verification against your claim, follow these steps to request the method of verification.
Step 1: Put Your Request for Method of Verification in Writing
When filing a dispute the credit bureau probably didn’t bother to contact the original creditor for verification. The third-party database, e-OSCAR, might have been used to verify the disputed item, but as mentioned earlier, this method of verification is not very thorough with its investigation.
This is why it is important to request that the credit bureaus provide relevant documentation that shows indisputable evidence that they investigated your dispute.
When asking for their method of verification you’re going to want to make sure that all FCRA procedures were followed and all the necessary steps were taken to verify the dispute.
Step 2: Send a Verification Letter
Refer to our Free Credit Dispute Letters To Fix Your Credit. The letter will vary depending on what item you’re trying to dispute and have removed from your credit report.
Step 3: Wait 15 days for a response from the Credit Bureaus
According to FCRA section 611(a)(7) “A consumer reporting agency shall provide to a consumer a description … by no later than 15 days after receiving a request from the consumer for that description.”
This basically means that once they receive your verification letter that questions the validity of their first investigation, under the law they are required to reply to you within 15 days.
Step 4: What to Do if the Credit Bureau Doesn’t Comply
If the credit bureau doesn’t respond, they are in direct violation of the FCRA, and this gives you the right to sue or threaten legal action to expedite the process of getting a negative item deleted off of your credit report.
However, before pursuing legal action, you should start by making a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asking for the item to be deleted based on the credit bureau’s failure to comply with providing proof of their method of verification.
Complaints can also be filed with your state’s Attorney General’s office along with the Better Business Bureau. It is important to apply as much pressure as possible to these credit bureaus before pursuing legal action.
If these strategies fail to get the disputed item removed, it will be time to take further action. You can start by sending an intent to sue letter. After this, you can give them 10 days to remove the negative listing.
If they don’t, you should then proceed to file your lawsuit in small claims court or contact a consumer attorney. The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) has a nationwide database of lawyers who are well versed in handling FCRA violations.
How the Method of Validation Works
Validation is the act of making or declaring something legally or officially acceptable. It is the primary method consumers have to protect their rights. Validation doesn’t always relate to the credit repair process and is oftentimes confused with verification.
Validation is a process that is used specifically to help protect a consumer’s legal rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). In most cases, validation is implemented to help stop debt collection agencies from harassing consumers.
It can also be used as a defense strategy to protect consumers from debt collectors who unfairly attempt to collect old and disputed debts.
When looking for validation, you have the right to demand validation with third-party debt collectors, and clients have the right to hire legal counsel to do this for them.
It is important to note that debt can’t be validated with the original creditors or the credit bureaus. This can only be done with third-party debt collection agencies.
If you’re receiving phone calls, letters, or emails from debt collectors, make sure you Follow These 7 Steps before Paying An Old Debt.
The Difference Between Disputing, Verification, and Validation
After getting some background information on each term, it’s important to understand how they are different from each other.
Disputing is one of the most common terms used in credit repair. The definition of disputing is to challenge or question whether an alleged fact is valid. But how do you know if disputing claims will yield the results you desire?
When answering this question, a lot of it will come down to the laws outlined in the FCRA. Under this act, you are allowed to dispute any questionable information that might be based on assumption or based on fact.
In any case, the burden of proof will be on the credit bureau or original creditor to verify the accuracy of its claim. If they can’t verify that a negative event actually occurred and the debt is still owed, then the debt will have to be deleted.
Verification is the process of establishing the accuracy of a given claim. In other words, verification will follow a dispute if you feel as if the credit bureaus investigation was not thorough enough. If a credit bureau fails to provide their method of verifying the debt in question, then they violate the FCRA.
Verification is often misinterpreted as a legal strategy when in reality, it is a verb used to describe the method that places the burden of proof on the credit bureaus or creditor to verify the questionable information. This verification request doesn’t require a cause, reason, or justification for why the verification request is taking place.
This means that even if you can’t verify a factual error in the bureau’s report, you still have the right to request how they verified their claim. If they cannot provide proof of where the debt came from, then the debt will be deleted.
Validation is the most different from the other two terms because it happens only when you’re dealing with debt collectors. The primary goal of validation is to prove that the debt you owe is not valid.
If you find that there isn’t sufficient evidence to validate the debt or there has been an omission of information, the debt can be invalidated.
However, it is critical to understand that there is a major difference between the proof debt collectors must provide to a consumer versus what they need to provide to a court.
Debt collectors can easily validate recent debts with consumers because there is a very low requirement for the information they are obligated to provide.
This is crucial if you consider the fact that aging debt records can be lost throughout these old accounts being sold and resold. This can lead to a loss of the original record, which is grounds for debt invalidation.
With this in mind, it is important to realize that a consumer shouldn’t be responsible for the debt that is not validated or is expired. Validation is a powerful strategy and legal maneuver for dealing with debt collection agencies.
If the debt collector fails to validate, you can then document the paper trail and send it to the bureaus, who will then be forced to delete the debt.
Disputing, verification, and validation are three important terms that are oftentimes mixed up with each other. All are greater parts of the credit repair process, but they each have their own purpose and meaning.
It’s important to understand the differences between these terms. Disputing information on your credit report is one of the first steps you will make in the credit repair process. If you receive an automated message back from the credit reporting agencies, you will need to ask for verification.
If your credit repair process involves dealing with debt collectors, the process of validating your debts will be very important. The validation process requires that your debt collectors provide you with the information to prove the validity of your debt.
By knowing when it is appropriate to validate, verify, or dispute a claim, you will be more well equipped to fight the credit bureaus (or debt collectors) against wrongful claims that can’t be proven or verified.
Having this knowledge can only help to serve you on your quest to improve your credit over time. Many people are unaware of the protections provided to consumers in the FCRA. By knowing that the law is on your side, you can move forward in combatting credit bureaus and debt collectors who are oftentimes unable to verify their claims.
Just remember to be patient with the credit repair process. It requires time and energy, but the results may be worth all that hard work!