What are Negative Items on Your Credit Report?
Errors and negative items on your credit report are two contributing factors that lead to low credit scores. You have to learn how to dispute negative items on your credit report to begin to improve your scores.
Errors on your credit report are a lot more common than people think. Approximately 20% of people will discover an error on their credit report. Errors big and small can negatively impact your credit score. Luckily there are great cost-effective credit monitoring options where you can monitor your profile and catch anything that is off.
You’ll need to obtain a copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus and review it for errors and negative items. Getting your report and scores are super important, but so is frequently monitoring your credit monthly.
Errors and negative items include any of the following:
- Misspelled name(s)
- Incorrect addresses
- Incorrect account information
- Late payments
- Overdue accounts
You should dispute negative items and errors on your credit report as soon as you can. Not only will this help improve your credit score, but this will also help you land lower interest rates on credit cards and loans.
How to Dispute Negative Items in Your Credit Profile?
As soon as you discover an error or a negative item on your credit report, you will need to file a dispute with the credit bureau that has reported it. You can file a dispute online, by mail, or by phone. The three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) must review your dispute within 30 days.
P. O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
P. O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
P. O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
When you file a dispute, you will need to include the following information:
- List the specific item or items you are disputing
- Explain why you are disputing the item(s) with details
- Request that the credit bureau remove the negative item or error
Sometimes you can notify the issuer of the account rather than the credit bureau, especially if it is an error that occurred on the lender’s end. If that’s the case, you should contact the lender that issued the account to ask them to correct the mistake. It’s always a good idea to follow up with the credit bureau to ensure that one of the two parties makes the necessary corrections.
One question you may be asking yourself is, “How long does it take to dispute credit?”
When you dispute negative items to a credit bureau, they have 30 days to review the dispute. Once the investigation has concluded, they have just five days to provide you with a report of their investigation, and it will be free. You won’t have to pay for the report if they will be correcting due to the dispute.
Avoid Frivolous Credit Report Disputes
Disputing information that is false on your credit profile is key to cleaning up your credit. However, credit bureaus can deny investigating your dispute if they feel the dispute is frivolous. Various factors identify frivolous disputes.
The first step the credit bureau will take is to review the information in the dispute. If the dispute lacks the necessary information, the credit bureau can deem it frivolous.
If your dispute includes all accurate and necessary information, but you have made the dispute numerous times in the past, the credit bureau can deem the dispute frivolous.
Finally, if your dispute indicates that everything on your credit report is inaccurate or incorrect, the credit bureau can deem the dispute frivolous.
Each of these circumstances can cause the credit bureau to deny your dispute. The credit bureau will notify you within five days for the reason they considered your dispute frivolous. The good news is that you can re-submit your dispute with accurate information to validate your dispute.
What Happens After I File a Credit Report Dispute?
The credit bureau will investigate your dispute within 30 days and then notify you of the results up to five days later. If your dispute results in removing the error or negative item from your credit report, then your credit score can update accordingly.
Only disputes that are related to negative items or incorrect account payment information can have an impact on your score. If you have a mistake corrected to your personal information, such as correcting the spelling of your name, your credit score won’t be affected.
After the dispute has gone through the investigation process, you will see a dispute comment about the account that you disputed on your credit report. The dispute comment may read “Account Disputed” or “Account was in Dispute – Now Resolved.”
These types of dispute comments notify lenders that the account has been disputed by the borrower and thus should not be considered during the approval process.
How to Dispute Negative Items by Phone?
You can request to dispute a negative item from your credit report by phone; however, doing so may result in a change to your credit score.
To do this to call the credit bureau at one of the numbers below:
- Experian: 855-414-6148
- Equifax: 800-846-5279
- TransUnion: 800-916-8800
There is always the chance that the credit bureau may refuse to remove the disputed item from a credit report. Don’t worry, you still have another option.
You can contact the creditor and notify their credit department that you no longer wish to dispute the account. We only recommend doing this if the disputed account isn’t past due or in collections.
Calling the creditor and asking to remove a dispute from your credit report that is valid will likely cause the creditor to attempt to collect the debt from the account. Unless you have the money to pay off the debt, it is recommended to refrain from contacting the creditor directly.
Should the credit bureau or creditor remove the disputed item from your credit report, your credit score may change.
If the disputed item is removed from an account with a good-standing history, then your credit score will likely increase.
Keep this in mind when attempting to dispute a negative item from your credit report.
How to Dispute a Negative Item With a Pay for Delete Letter?
Another way to dispute negative items on your credit report is to send a pay for delete letter.
A pay for delete letter is a request you will make to the collection agency to have the negative item removed from your credit in exchange for paying off the debt. Offering a pay-for-delete letter should only be done if you have the money to pay off the debt or if the collection account is paid in full.
When an account is delinquent, the creditor sells the account to a collection agency that attempts to collect the debt. To settle the debt, you will need to offer the collection agency an amount higher than what the agency purchased the account for.
The collection agency will likely offer you a number to which you may have the ability to counter-offer. Regardless, you will have to pay the amount that is agreed upon before the agency will accept your pay-for-delete letter.
If the collection account has been paid in full, you can send a pay for delete letter to the credit bureaus to request that they remove the collection account from your credit report.
Collection accounts that have been paid in full will drop off of your credit report after 7 years, but they can be removed sooner if you send a pay for delete letter.
When to Consider a Pay for Delete Letter
You should consider sending a pay for delete letter if you meet the following criteria:
- You are ready to pay off the account
- The 7-year expiration is several years away
- You have received proof that your debt is valid
A pay for delete letter may not be accepted by all agencies or creditors. Corporate banks or credit unions will often deny pay for delete letters, so you need to familiarize yourself with who the creditor or agency is that owns the debt and decide if you should send a pay for delete letter.
There is always a chance that your pay for delete letter may be rejected. You must receive a response from the collection agency or creditor in writing that says whether or not they agree to accept the terms listed on your pay for delete letter.
If the creditor or agency rejects your pay for delete letter request, you can try to dispute negative items by negotiating a settlement, wait for the 7-year credit reporting time limit to expire, or send a goodwill letter. A goodwill letter is recommended for those who have a history of making timely payments.
Negative items will show up on your credit report if you have missed a payment or the account has gone to collections. Fortunately, there are different methods you can use to dispute negative items that are reported to your credit report. Having these negative items removed from your credit report can help you increase your credit score and fix your credit.
There are also other ways to improve your credit and you will want to do them in addition to just disputing items.
How Can I Get Negative Items Removed from My Credit Report?
Paul Martinez is the founder of BendingDestiny.com. He is an expert in the areas of finance, real estate, and eCommerce.
Join him on BendingDestiny.com to learn how to improve your financial life and excel in these areas. Before starting this blog, Paul built from scratch and managed two multi-million dollar companies. One in the real estate sector and one in the eCommerce sector.