Updated: Apr 20
Ok……so you’ve decided that something needs to change and that’s your credit score! You don’t really know where to start, so you take to YouTube and you hear a lot of videos about disputing items on your credit report.
Sounds easy enough, but you’re left with some pressing questions…………
All of these are important valid questions and I want to help you get answers.
What’s the easiest way to dispute an item off my credit?
This is a big question and to answer it I will have to ask you another question, do you want to do this on your own or would you like help?
Either way the first step is important!
1. Get a copy of your credit report.
If you want to use a credit monitoring service, they will pull this report for you.
They will also go through your report and educate you on items that could and should be disputed.
If you want to go at it alone, you can just go to any of the credit bureau sites and request a free copy of your credit report.
You're entitled to 1 free credit report a year!
2. File electronically.
If you'd like to dispute these items with a bit of help, you could sign up to CreditNerd.com, which is a company that offers free and paid services to help you monitor and dispute your Transunion credit report.
But if your one of those "do it yourself"-ers, like me, or you just prefer to file disputes electronically, you can try these options:
Credit Karma is great for helping you monitor and file disputes on your Transunion and Equifax reports. I have had Credit Karma for years and I have absolutely no complaints.
As a matter of fact, I just filed a dispute on my report about information that should have fallen off and within 2 week's time, the dispute was completed and the information was updated.
To monitor your Experian report and file disputes, you can sign up to Experian.com. You will also need to do this if you plan on taking advantage of Experian Boost.
If you're a person that does things electronically and doesn't want to call or mail each credit bureau these are some great options to help you get this done as quickly as possible.
Check this story out: Credit Repair vs Credit Counseling
3. File over the phone.
Let’s say you want to file disputes on your own, but you’re not as tech savvy as the next person.
No worries, you can call all three credit bureaus and file a dispute over the phone.
The most current contact information for all 3 bureaus:
Equifax : 1-888-378-4329
4. File by mail.
The last and slowest option is to file your dispute by mail. Yes, it is just as effective as the other ways.
Some people just like to have that paper correspondence for their records and that’s ok.
To file a dispute by mail you can use these addresses for the 3 bureaus:
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Equifax Dispute Center
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Your letter should include the following items:
Your current address
Your date of birth
Your social security number
The name of the company that you are filing against
The account number of the item in question
The reason you’re filing a dispute
And, like the smart cookie I know you are, please send your letter via certified mail. This is to ensure for your records that your letter was sent and received. It also starts the clock on the 30-days they have to complete the dispute.
Here is a simple dispute letter template:
Your personal dispute letter template pdf can be downloaded by clicking
So now that you have learned the 4 ways you can file a dispute, let's address the other questions you’re thinking about.
Should I dispute everything on the credit report?
No, you should only dispute negative items on your credit score. If the item is making you look good but it's old then you don't have to worry about it.
What if it’s making me look good but it’s not mine? In that case, you need to dispute that item.
Mainly because…….it is making you look good for the moment but if it’s not yours this could turn ugly quick. Whomever it's for, can decide at any moment they don’t want to have good credit habits anymore, this would then affect your report because you’re listed as the owner of the account.
You can still dispute the item but by this time your credit has taken a dive. It’s not worth it.
So with that being said, dispute negative and/or inaccurate information on your credit report.
How long does it take to remove a dispute off a credit report?
This depends on the filing method you’ve chosen. To be quite honest with you, if you choose to file your dispute electronically, you're looking at about a 2 week period before the item is corrected or updated.
If you file your dispute by phone or mail, they have 30 days to complete the dispute. And believe me, they will take all that time.
But, no more than 30 day!
Does removing the dispute hurt my credit?
Honestly, you will see a slight dip in your credit score when you remove negative or inaccurate information from your credit report.
Your credit report not only factors in the items that you have on it, but it also considers your behavior. The more stable your credit behavior is, the better your score will be.
Removing an item off your credit is a good thing, however, it has caused some instability in your credit report behavior.
Now, you can get your report stable again with good behavior, like paying your bills on time and keeping your balances low. If you see a dip, give it about a month and it'll probably go up a few points.
How much will my credit score increase if a negative item is removed?
You may be thinking, well, I was told that this would help my credit score increase. So which is it?
Actually, it’s either or both. Think about this, if you had an inaccurate missed payment or an incorrect balance, getting these things off your report will increase your score.
But if you were disputing an incorrect address or maybe an account that wasn’t yours, your balance could go down (a bit) or not change at all.
My real life example, when I disputed an account that was old and should have fallen off my credit score did not increase. However, when I disputed an account that had a balance should have been lower than it was my score went up about 3 to 4 points.
Disputing the account with the incorrect balance made my score go up because the balance should have been lower. This affected my overall balance by lowering it below the 25% recommended threshold.
So my score went up the following month. It really depends on what type of item you are disputing to determine the increase in your score.
Whether it increases your score or keeps it the same, it’s still a good move when you dispute inaccurate items on your report.
I give more examples in the story: Increase your credit by 50 points, Here’s what I did!
How to get a dispute deleted from my credit report?
You may think this is the same as filing a dispute, but it’s not. This is a bit different and matters depending on what you are trying to purchase.
If your goal is just to purchase a car or get a better credit card you’re done. But let’s say you wanted more. A home.
You may have to get the dispute deleted from your report. This is because the software that is used for the last step in your home loan approval, the underwriter, may see this dispute as a red flag.
Well, because when it comes to buying a home you have to consider your credit score and your credit report.
Your credit score can be high, but if the automated underwriting software picks up instability in your credit report, you could still be declined for a home loan.
Here’s what to do!
Write a letter of explanation for the disputes or get the disputed items removed! I personally would include the letter of explanation to start and if they ask for more do the latter.
You can get dispute remarks removed the same 4 ways you file a dispute, sometimes they do it automatically once the dispute is closed and deemed inaccurate. But sometimes they forget!
So, if for some reason, you still see the dispute remark on your credit report after you have filed a dispute, get them on the phone and ask them to remove it from your report. It will take about 24 to 72 hours to get it removed. Not bad right!?
If you mail the request it takes about a month.
Major Take Away!
I know this sounds like a lot and could be overwhelming. But whether you decide to go with a credit repair service or file on your own, you'll never regret having your credit report reflect accurate information.
Following one of these 4 steps could increase your credit score and put you on the path of reaching your financial goals.