Did a recently rejected credit application prompt you to view your TransUnion report? Or maybe you were casually browsing your free credit report and noticed issues. Either way, you want to clean up your credit sooner than later, and the best way to do so is by filing disputes.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report.” But if what you see is either questionable, inaccurate, or untimely, filing formal disputes with TransUnion can definitely work in your favor.
Here’s how to move forward:
What’s in Your Transunion Report
The primary categories of your report are:
- Personal information: this section includes your name, date of birth, address and Social Security number. Information about your employer will also be listed here. This information has no bearing on your credit report and is updated as you supply new information to lenders and creditors.
- Account information: this section includes information about accounts you have with both lenders and creditors. It mentions the amount of the loan or credit limit and the current outstanding balance. You will also see the current account status, along with the date you opened the loan or credit card and the payment history since that point.
- Credit Inquiries: this section includes both involuntary and voluntary inquiries. However, only the latter impacts your credit since it reflects applications for credit and not credit screenings for pre-qualification purposes.
- Public records and collection accounts: this section includes any tax liens, lawsuits, bankruptcies, foreclosure or wage garnishments, as reported by the state and county courts. Delinquent accounts that have already been sold to collection agencies are also reported here.
When reviewing your credit report, carefully review the information in each of these categories to confirm they are accurate. And if you spot errors, note highlight or circle them so you can know which items to dispute.
Want to Remove Negative Items from Your Credit Report?
Errors to Look out For
According to a study by the FTC, 1 in 5 credit reports contains errors. So, there’s a good chance your report may include incorrect information. A few issues to be on the lookout for that could be dragging your credit down:
- Accounts you don’t recognize (This is often a result of identity theft)
- Incorrect account names and numbers
- Incorrect loan or credit limits
- Issues with payment history
- Unauthorized credit inquiries
- Negative accounts that have hit the 7-year reporting timeline mark and should no longer be there
If you spot errors or inaccuracies in your credit report, you have three dispute options: by mail, online, or phone.
While it’s possible to have the issues rectified by using any of these methods, we recommend filing your disputes by mail. Why so? When you file online or by phone, you won’t have a paper trail and may lose some of the protections afforded to you
The FTC also recommends “contact[ing] both the credit bureaus and the information provider” to best exercise your rights as a consumer. So once you’ve filed formal disputes using one of the methods mentioned below, you’ll also want to reach out to the creditor promptly.
How to Dispute with Transunion
Dispute by Mail
To file a dispute by mail, you’ll need to draft up a letter like the one found here. According to TransUnion, your letter should include:
- The File Identification Number listed on your report
- Your current address
- Your date of birth
- Your social security number
- The name of the company that furnished the information to TransUnion
- The account number of the item in question
- The reason why you’re filing a dispute
- Updates that need to be made to your personal information
The letter should be mailed to:
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Before submitting the letter and supporting documentation, make copies and keep the originals for your records. Also, be sure to send your package via certified mail with a return receipt requested so you’ll know it reached its intended destination.
To file an online dispute, you’ll need to create an account. Enter personal information, including your full name, address, date of birth, social security number and email address to get started. (If you already have an account, you can bypass this step and log right in.)
Once you’ve completed the registration process and logged in, you can submit a dispute by taking the following steps:
- Select the tab that reads “New Investigation”. Enter your last name, social security number, and zip code, then hit submit.
- Review the information that appears in the credit report. Find the account with inaccuracies and select the button that reads “Request An Investigation”. You can also update your personal information directly from this page.
- When you’ve selected all the accounts with issues, scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit continue.
- Upload any supporting documentation to substantiate your claim on the Investigation Summary page.
- Select submit to complete your request.
Dispute by Phone
To dispute by phone, call 800-916-8800. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 am to 11 pm (Eastern Standard Time)
But before calling, you want to have a copy of your report on hand because the customer service representative will need the File Identification Number.
It’s also a good idea to have any supporting documentation handy as you will need to send it in using the instructions provided by the customer service representative.
What to Expect After Your Dispute is Filed
Once your dispute is received, TransUnion has 30 days to investigate and issue a response regarding their outcome. During that time, they will submit your information to the party that furnished the information (i.e. lender or creditor) and await a reply to confirm or deny your claim.
In most instances, you’ll be able to track the status of your dispute directly from TransUnion’s website.
If the outcome is successful, your credit report will be updated to reflect the correct information. TransUnion will also send you an updated copy for your records.
If the outcome is unsuccessful, the information will remain on your credit report. And at this point, it may be necessary to reach out to the creditor with additional supporting documentation or open another dispute and include this information to substantiate your claim.
And if the lender or creditor doesn’t bother responding to the dispute, the credit bureau must remove the negative entry from your report.
To better your chances of following up with a creditor, send a detailed letter explaining exactly what’s wrong with the information on the account. You can even include a copy of your credit report so that they can see exactly what you’re referring to.
Don’t forget to request a return receipt so that you have proof the creditor received your information. If necessary, follow-up with a phone call if you don’t hear back within two weeks.
Does a credit report dispute hurt your score?
No, your score will not be penalized for initiating a dispute with TransUnion, so don’t be afraid to advocate for your rights. Here’s what will happen if you’re successful in getting negative items removed: you’ll notice a jump in your credit score within 30 to 45 days of the dispute being closed. Don’t forget to check your credit report after this timeframe to ensure everything looks accurate.
In theory, your score could go down if new negative information is added to your report as a result of the dispute. To avoid this, just make sure you have your most recent report before you get started.
One thing to be aware of during the dispute process is the XB code. This is assigned to any account that’s in dispute and will pause its effect on your credit score until the issue is resolved. So if you have a credit monitoring service and see your score jump, it doesn’t necessarily mean your dispute has been finalized. It could just be that the account isn’t currently counting towards your credit score.
It’s pertinent to stay on top of your credit to ensure that they are free and clear of errors. And if at any point you spot inaccuracies, you should file disputes promptly so your credit report and score properly reflects your credit history.