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Understanding the Dispute Process

Once you file a dispute with a credit reporting agency, what happens?  In general:

  • The dispute is translated into a three-digit code that captures the essence of the complaint.  A person reviewing your dispute letter or a computer receiving your online complaint completes this translation.
  • This code and your information are sent to the information provider (commonly called an information furnisher) via letter, phone, or most commonly an automated verification system.
  • The information provider checks their files to verify your liability for the payment, balances on the account, and payment history, among other information.
  • The information provider will communicate back to the credit-reporting agency whether to keep the information as it is—this means the information is verified as accurate--or change it.  This is supposed to be completed within 30 days of the credit reporting agency’s receipt of your complaint.
  • If no response is received from the information furnisher, the credit reporting agency is supposed to classify the entry as unverifiable and remove it from your report.
  • Once the investigation is complete, the credit reporting agency is required to send you a letter with the results of the investigation as well as a copy of your credit report if there was a change made based on the investigation.

Does this mean your work is over?  Unfortunately, probably not.  While the credit-reporting agency is supposed to notify the other credit-reporting agencies of the error, you may need to get and review your credit reports to ensure this has not happened.  If it has not, you can either:

  • Contact the credit reporting agency that you filed a dispute with and ask them to notify the other agencies
  • Send each credit reporting agency copies of the investigation results.

It’s a good idea to check your reports every three to six months to ensure the item has not reappeared on your credit reports.