Can Previously Deleted Items Reappear on My Credit Reports?

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If an item on your credit report was recently deleted, you might be surprised if you received notice that the item had been reinserted in your credit file. A deleted item could reappear on your credit report for a couple reasons. Read on to find out how this might happen and what you can do about it.

Understanding How a Credit Report Dispute Works

The credit report dispute process is designed to help consumers ensure the accuracy of their credit reports. If you believe an item on one of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion or Equifax) is inaccurate, you can dispute the information. The credit bureau will then investigate your dispute, which at Experian entails contacting the company that reported the information, also known as the data furnisher, who must then determine whether the information they reported to the bureau was accurate.

Once the data furnisher receives a notice of your dispute from a credit bureau, they must investigate the claim to determine whether the dispute merits a change in their reporting. The process typically takes 30 days or less and results in the contested item either being modified, confirmed as accurate and left on your credit report, or deleted from your credit report.

In rare circumstances, items deleted from your credit reports can, in fact, reappear on your credit reports even after the dispute resolution process has been completed. This practice is referred to in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) as "reinsertion."

Why a Deleted Item May Reappear on Your Credit Reports

A previously deleted item could reappear on your credit reports for a couple reasons. The dispute resolution process allows for information to be removed from a credit report if, in response to the dispute, the furnishing party cannot verify it or doesn't respond to the credit reporting company's request for an investigation within the time allowed by the FCRA.

The 30-day limit on credit report investigations doesn't require that a credit bureau permanently block an item from ever being re-reported if it is initially removed, however. For example, if a lender doesn't respond within its initial 30-day time limit, but then responds on day 35 that the disputed information is in fact correct, the item can be reinserted on the credit report.

If a furnisher never responds to a credit report dispute, the credit bureaus would remove the item. But if the furnisher re-reports the item to the credit reporting companies the following month as part of their normal credit reporting updates, the item could be reinserted.

If the credit reporting company accepts the reinsertion by the furnisher, they are required to provide a notice of reinsertion to the consumer within five business days of such reinsertion.

What to Do if Incorrect Information Reappears on Your Credit Reports

If an item you thought was deleted from your credit report reappears there, the credit bureau involved will send you a reinsertion notice to let you know. If you believe the reinserted item should not be on your report, you have the same rights to re-dispute the information either with the credit bureau or with the data furnisher directly.

Keep in mind, however, that if an item has been reinserted, it's because the furnisher and the credit reporting company reasonably believed the information was accurate. If you simply re-dispute the same item again using the same basis for your dispute, you may not be successful in having the information removed. And it's possible the credit reporting company may consider your dispute frivolous if the same dispute is submitted multiple times and terminate the investigation process. In those cases where you choose to re-dispute an item, it might be in your best interest to provide documents or supplemental information bolstering your claim that the item is incorrect rather than re-submitting the same dispute with no additional information.

All three of the major credit reporting agencies will accept documents from consumers who have filed credit report disputes. You can simply attach them to your dispute when you file online. You can also include them in any written dispute that you choose to submit via the U.S. mail system.

The Bottom Line

Chances are that if you are successful in getting something removed from your credit reports, there's a good reason it was removed and it will not reappear. Still, that doesn't always mean the deleted item is gone forever and has no chance of ever reappearing.

As long as the item is accurate and verifiable, a furnishing party can re-report the entry and have the credit reporting agency can reinsert the entry on your credit reports. However, if an item has been reinserted, the credit bureau will send you a notice as to the reinsertion so you can attempt to resolve any remaining issues with respect to data accuracy.