Credit dispute letters are easy to write. Still, many cases come through my office where the disputes are so poorly written they are useless. More often the credit dispute letters were completed over the phone or Internet. Sometimes the disputes were sent by credit repair law firms who, despite their size, know nothing about the industry. Those kind of dispute letters are worse than useless for several reasons. In each of those cases we have to start from scratch to help our clients. There are several things you can do to avoid this problem however.
Online or Telephone Credit Dispute Letters are Useless
Never dispute credit report errors online or by telephone. The disputes won’t get results and the credit bureaus may require you to waive your legal rights to access their online credit disputing system. You also won’t have a proper record of disputing the information which is required if you need to sue the credit bureaus. Always send your disputes in writing.
Write Effective Credit Dispute Letters
It does not take much to write effective credit dispute letters. Just tell the credit bureau it is reporting inaccurately and why. Keep your explanation short and simple. You do not need to provide needless details. They will distill your dispute down into a few simple categories such as not mine, never late, paid in full, etc. The credit reporting agencies don’t care beyond that. It can also slow down your dispute or verify the reported account if you give them too much information.
Be polite. There is nothing worse than sounding like a jerk and doing so will often stop your dispute without results. Seriously, threatening the credit bureaus is rude and will not get good results. The credit bureaus are sued every day and they do not fear anything you can do. It won’t help to beg either. The agents reviewing your dispute are cold and calculated and they have seen every excuse.
A good sample credit dispute letter will say something like this.
“You are listing an account from ACME on my credit report but it is not mine. Please delete the account.”
Some credit consultants and online hacks will tell you to sound crazy in your dispute letters or make legal threats. They could not be more wrong. Being threatening, crazy, or even just rude is not effective. The credit bureaus are not intimidated by you and if they are confused about your dispute it will be worthless. Crazy and threatening letters are also harmful in your legal case if you end up suing the credit bureaus.
How to Write a Credit Report Dispute Letter
- Identify each inaccurate item
Check over your reports to find each item that is reporting inaccurately. Be sure to identify each of those items in your letter.
- Explain why each item should be deleted
Explain to the credit bureaus what exactly is wrong with each incorrect item that is reporting. They won’t take something off unless you provide a good reason.
- Request a deletion or correction of the information
You should not assume the credit bureaus will know what to do with the incorrect information. Tell them exactly what you want to happen. If you want the information deleted request a deletion. If a correction is more appropriate request the correction with a specific explanation of what correction should be made. Don’t make the credit bureaus guess.
- Enclose a copy of the credit report with the incorrect items circled or highlighted
Finding information in your credit reports can be difficult. It helps to mark the inaccurate items and include a copy with your credit report dispute letter.
- Include your identifying information
Be sure to sign the letter and include your address, Social Security number, and date of birth with your dispute. You don’t want to create any problems with finding your reports. Make it easy for the credit bureaus. You may also want to include a copy of your identification so the credit bureaus know you are not using a credit repair company.
- Mail your credit report dispute letter by certified mail
This step is optional but highly recommended. If you mail the credit report dispute letter by certified mail you can prove the credit bureaus received it an a specific date. In many cases you won’t need that proof but if the credit bureaus fail to delete inaccurate information proof they had the opportunity to correct or delete the information will be important.
Mainstream Credit Dispute Letters can be Useless or Harmful
Almost all mainstream credit repair companies and credit repair law firms send cookie-cutter dispute letters that they have used thousands or hundreds of thousands of times before. Creditors sometimes recognize these letters and gather them together and sue the credit repair companies for sending them.
Mainstream credit repair letters also often contain false statements made in your name. For example, it is common to claim in these letters that you don’t recognize a specific account as yours even though you actually know for certain you opened the account. Another common lie used by credit repair companies and credit repair lawyers is that you were never late on payments even though you actually were late several times. Any false statements made in your credit dispute letter letters can be attributed to you and actually cause you legal problems down the road so don’t let this happen.
It is also unethical and illegal to dispute accurate information but most mainstream credit repair law firms and companies built their entire business on disputing information they know is accurate. Do you really want a liar sending disputes in your name?
Avoid Credit Repair Law Firm Scams
If you sent out your own credit dispute letters but failed to get results you may need to engage an attorney. Be careful though. Most credit repair law firms are not true attorneys. They are con artists milking their clients for monthly fees.
Many are so corrupt that they aren’t even law firms at all. Some of the biggest and most widely known so-called “credit repair law firms” are actually marketing companies who employ figurehead attorneys who are too corrupt and bungling to actually practice law. Some of these simpletons are so utterly incompetent they need consultants to write their credit dispute letters for them. Shocking but true.
Some mainstream credit repair companies and law firms actually dispute information online or directly with the credit bureaus through various cooperative agreements. Those kind of disputes are not only ineffective but can cause you to waive valuable legal rights without your permission. Also, how could you trust a company willing to lie on your behalf or one that charges you monthly but works hand-in-hand with the credit bureaus to drag things out?
Use Actual Credit Repair Litigation Attorneys
If you need legal help with a credit dispute letter you should engage a true credit litigation attorney. Litigators who actually practice law, know the court system, think for themselves, and understand the true inner workings of the credit reporting system are your best shot at getting results. Unlike the cookie-cutter methods others use, actual credit litigation attorneys will create litigation-ready credit dispute letters that will be true, ethical, legal, dignified, and effective.
True attorneys can also file credit repair lawsuits on your behalf. It is sometimes necessary to sue to get the credit bureaus to delete incorrect tradelines but using an accomplished attorney is needed to get the best results. It may also be necessary to sue to get you damages caused by incorrect credit reporting. Some credit repair litigation attorneys will actually dispute credit items for you for free or at a much lower cost than the monthly fees and setup fees mainstream credit repair law firms will charge.
Only Use Effective Credit Dispute Letters
Sending a worthless credit dispute letter is a waste of time but using a credit repair law firm or other company with cookie-cutter tactics may be worse. The process is simple. Most people will never need to waste time or money on credit repair companies. Do it yourself credit repair is within reach of the average person.
Your credit dispute letter should be simple and short. Just identify what is listed wrong and why it is wrong. It is that simple. You don’t need to give a long explanation for why the tradeline is wrong. Telling the credit bureaus the listing is not mine, was never late, or is fully paid, etc., is sufficient. Details are not needed and in many cases can hurt your efforts. Adding too much detail can look like its verifying the accuracy of incorrect information.
I cannot stress this point enough. Use caution in giving too much information, don’t make any legal threats or use legal language or citations to federal or state credit reporting laws. Just be yourself. Tell the bureaus what is incorrect and why. If your credit dispute letter fails after following these tips and tricks then it may be time to get help from an actual credit report litigation attorney.