TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian Dispute: What Happens When It’s Denied?

You have a right to an accurate and fair credit report. But people make honest mistakes, and sometimes the information on your credit reports isn’t right. That’s why there’s a process for TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian disputes. But what happens if your credit dispute is denied? You definitely have options, so keep reading to learn more.

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In This Piece

What Is a Credit Dispute?

A credit dispute can refer to a few things. For the purpose of this article, we’re mostly concerned with disputing inaccurate information that appears on your credit reports. However, you might also dispute collections by asking for validation of a debt before you move forward with negotiating or fighting a collection attempt.

When it comes to disputing inaccurate information in your credit report, you’re supported by the law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit bureaus like TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian to provide fair and accurate credit reporting. They also have to provide ways for consumers to seek to correct inaccurate information they might find in their credit reports.

When you submit a dispute, the credit reporting agency must investigate the items in question–usually within 30 days of receiving your communication. Once the investigation is complete, the credit bureau has 5 days to make any appropriate changes to your file and notify you of those results.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides some support for a consumer disputing a collection. Under the FDCPA, a collection agency must provide you with information that verifies the debt, including the total amount due and the original creditor. If you receive a collections notice and aren’t sure the debt is yours because you can’t identify it, you can send a debt validation letter to request this information. 

Can Disputing a Collection or Credit Item Hurt You?

The act of asserting your rights under laws like the FCRA or FDCPA doesn’t, of itself, hurt your credit. However, the outcome of these actions might change your credit score or what you owe.

For example, if you dispute a negative item on your credit report, that doesn’t in itself have any bearing on your credit score. However, if the item is removed from your credit report as a result of your TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian dispute, your credit score based on that report may increase.

Likewise, if you ask for validation of a collection item and the agency can’t prove the debt, you may not actually owe it. You can dispute the information on your credit report in that case, using the lack of validation documents as part of your reasoning. If the collection is removed from your credit report, your score will likely go up.

How Many Items Can You Dispute at Once?

You can dispute as many items as you want. However, for an increased chance at positive outcomes, you may want to follow some best practices:

  • Address one item at a time. Misunderstandings, typos and confusion between line items or accounts are potential reasons for credit report errors. Keep those issues out of your dispute by addressing one error at a time. The credit bureaus offer some options for disputing information online. If you use this option, open up a new “ticket”or dispute for each individual error. If you’re sending a letter to dispute things in writing, consider sending separate letters for each dispute. 
  • Limit disputes within short periods of time. While there’s no limit on disputes, if you send a dozen in the same week or month, you run the risk that credit reporting agencies might see you as someone who’s frivolous with disputes. Make sure all your disputes are grounded in facts and that you provide documentation to back them up. Avoid sending many “try and see” disputes that you don’t think you have a good case for but want to gamble on anyway.
  • Keep disputes to a number you can reasonably follow up on. You may need to follow up on a dispute, sending additional information or arguing your case if the credit bureau denies your dispute. If you only have the bandwidth to properly manage a single dispute at a time, choose the one with the biggest potential for benefits and work your way slowly through the others when you can. You might also work with a credit repair organization to handle all the details for you.

What to Do If Your Credit Dispute Is Denied

You may wonder what happens if your TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian dispute is denied. You can keep submitting disputes to try to get the information corrected. However, you shouldn’t simply submit a carbon copy of the same dispute you already tried. If the credit bureau already denied that one, they’re likely to deny a subsequent attempt that doesn’t add any additional information.

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    Instead, do more research or come up with better documentation that proves your case. Then submit another dispute with that new information. You can also submit another dispute with a different reason.

    For example, you may have disputed an account on your credit report as being something you don’t owe. If the creditor submitted documentation proving that you did, indeed, own the account and owe on it, you could change your dispute to demonstrate that the amount reported as owed is incorrect. Obviously, you should only do this if you have evidence and truly believe you don’t owe the amount reported.

    In another example, you may have disputed that an item is incorrect but lost. However, if it’s still appearing on your credit report past the allowed time, you could try again and argue that the item should have aged off your report.

    How Many Times Can You Dispute a Collection or Inaccurate Credit Item?

    There’s no limit to how many times a consumer can dispute an item on their credit report, according to National Consumer Law Center attorney Chi Chi Wu. “In some cases, it will take several disputes to resolve a matter. However, if the consumer submits the same dispute regarding the same item, it may get rejected as ‘frivolous or irrelevant.’ A good idea is to add additional information or documentation to each subsequent dispute,” Wu said.

    Start Repairing Your Credit Today

    Want to clean up your credit reports and potentially get some positive credit score benefits? Discover more about working with credit repair organizations today.

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