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Requesting a change or update to your credit report—a process known as filing a dispute—has no direct impact on your credit. But certain changes made in response to disputes can affect your credit scores. Read on to learn how disputes work and why they may or may not impact your credit.
When Can I Dispute Credit Report Information?
Inaccuracies on credit reports are relatively rare, but they can occur from time to time. That's why it's wise to regularly check your credit reports with the three national consumer credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). You can check your Experian credit report for free anytime; you can also get a free report from each of the credit bureaus. If any of your reports contain information you feel is incorrect or that could be related to fraud or identity theft, consider filing a dispute with the relevant bureau.
Depending on the credit report item in question, additional action may be called for as well: The appearance of an unfamiliar loan or credit card account could be a sign of credit fraud, for example. Before sounding alarms over a new account on your report, however, check that the entry doesn't use a parent company name, initials or acronym for an account you know by another name. For example, a retail credit card might appear on your credit report under the name of the company's lending partner or the bank that manages its credit cards.
The process for filing disputes may differ somewhat for each credit bureau. Below we'll discuss Experian credit disputes.
Does Filing a Dispute Hurt Your Credit?
Filing a dispute has no impact on credit scores. But if certain information on your credit report changes as a result of your dispute, your credit score can change.
The nature of that change—whether your score goes up, down or stays the same—depends on what you are disputing and the outcome of the dispute.
- Disputing personal information that's used mainly to confirm your identity—such as an incorrect name or an address at which you never lived—has no bearing on your credit scores because that information is not used to calculate a credit score.
- Revisions to your payment history, however, can have an impact on your credit scores. For example, late payments have a negative effect on credit scores. If a late payment is mistakenly reported on your credit report and you have it corrected through a dispute, your credit scores will likely improve.
Before you dispute credit report information, consider when to file the dispute based on if you plan to apply for new credit soon. If you want your credit report to reflect updated information based on the dispute process, it's better to wait until after the dispute is resolved to apply.
Disputes typically take less than 30 days and may be subject to verification with the lender or other entity that furnished the information to Experian. After your dispute is completed, you can log in to your Experian account to see the outcome of your dispute and how it affected your FICO® Score☉ from Experian, if at all.
Possible Outcomes of Disputes
Results of a dispute depend partially on the nature of the information in question. Outcome descriptions that may appear on your Experian credit report or in your Experian account notifications once the dispute is completed include the following:
Disputes Related to Your Personal Information
Filing a dispute related to your personal identifying information, which can include your name, address, Social Security number and employers, can generate the following outcome notations:
- Added: This item was added to your credit report.
- Updated: The information you disputed has been revised on your credit report.
- Deleted: The item was removed from your credit report.
- Remains: The lender or source of the information has certified that the information is accurate, so the item has not changed.
Disputes Related to Accounts, Inquiries or Bankruptcy
The following notations may appear in your credit report and Experian account in connection with disputes around credit accounts. This can include your payment history, accounts in collection and foreclosures; inquiries made in response to credit applications or other activities; or bankruptcy, found in the Public Records section of your Experian credit report.
- Updated: This can mean either of the following:
- Information you disputed has been revised.
- Information you disputed has been verified as accurate by an information furnisher and therefore left as is, but other information on your account, unrelated to your dispute, has been updated.
- Deleted: The item was removed from your credit report.
- Processed: The item was updated or deleted from your credit report.
- Remains: The company reporting the information has certified to Experian that the information is accurate, so the item has not changed.
How Long Will Information Stay on My Credit Report?
Different credit report entries last different amounts of time. Most entries that can negatively affect your credit scores (late or missed payments, foreclosures and accounts placed in collections, for example) will remain for seven years.
The same is true of Chapter 13 personal bankruptcies, but Chapter 7 bankruptcies stay on your credit report for 10 years from the date you file for protection from the bankruptcy court.
Credit inquiries typically remain on your credit report for 24 months.
Open accounts with positive credit history remain on your credit report indefinitely, while accounts closed in good standing will remain for 10 years.
What if I Disagree With the Outcome of My Dispute?
If you dispute an entry on your credit report and the data furnisher confirms the information as accurate, Experian will inform you and the item will remain unchanged. Experian may update or remove an item in dispute if the data furnisher doesn't answer a verification request within the 30-day time frame specified by federal law, but if the furnisher verifies the information later, it may be re-added to your credit history.
If you disagree with the outcome of a dispute, your options include:
- Reach out to the lender. Contact your lender (or other data furnisher) to seek correction of discrepancies in their records.
- Re-file a dispute with the credit bureau. Include additional evidence of the inaccuracy. (Resubmitting only the information provided with your original dispute is unlikely to bring a different outcome.)
- Add a statement of dispute to your credit report. This is a note that appears when anyone checks your credit, indicating that you disagree with an entry in your credit report. To add a statement of dispute to your Experian credit report, go to the Dispute Center, choose an item you've disputed, and select Add a Statement.
The Bottom Line
Disputing inaccurate credit report information is everyone's right. Exercising that option has no effect on credit scores, but changes made to your credit report because of disputes can impact your scores. Check your free Experian credit report regularly to ensure its accuracy, and if you spot any issues, the Experian Dispute Center is the quickest, easiest way to dispute information.