Credit report errors happen all the time, in fact, errors are so common that over two-thirds of consumers found mistakes on their reports even after an investigation. This means that at some point many of us will find ourselves having to file a credit dispute to have them rectified. However, it may come as a surprise, that sometimes even if the information you are disputing is irrefutably wrong. Your dispute can be rejected or flagged as frivolous.
What actions did you take that could have triggered your dispute to be frivolous?
The credit reporting agencies don’t mark disputes frivolous without a reason. You have to send up some red flags first.
- Did you “flood” the credit bureaus with dispute letters? In the past, this was a tactic used by lazy credit repair companies. They would send a bunch of letters hoping that one of them would not be able to be answered within 30 days and result in having the item removed.
- The tone of your letter. If it is full of misspellings, or bad grammar. Is the tone angry and full of foul language? Or is the tone “too smooth” and sounding like you do this all the time? Is it a form letter that you copied from the internet and just filled out?
- Are you disputing the same thing over and over? TranUnion keeps a file of your disputes and they stamp it with the date a dispute was verified. If you try to dispute the same item w/ no new proof, they just send you a letter stating this item was verified on this date and they do not investigate. I don’t know if the other credit bureaus have the same sort of file, but it would make sense if they did!
Ok, your dispute has been marked as frivolous. What to do next?
Its best to “NOT” get classified as frivolous. It can be difficult to get the credit reporting agencies to pay attention to any new disputes without having A LOT of new proof or having to take them to court. But if you have gotten the letter here are a few things you can do.
Review your credit dispute
We’re all human. And therefore susceptible to human error. You may have missed a detail or two when you sent the original letter(s).
The first thing you should do is thoroughly go through your information making sure to check that everything is in order. And that you have the right paperwork to back up your claims.
Know your rights
Legally, credit bureaus must look into all filed disputes unless they deem them to be frivolous. In the event that a dispute is considered to be frivolous, credit bureaus are obligated to provide you with 5 business day notice to explain their decision. And provide you with the information to change your frivolous dispute into a legitimate one.
If you can show that the agency purposefully failed to comply with these terms then you may be able to seek help under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and sue them.
Add a statement to your credit report
You are entitled to add a 100-word statement to your credit report. Because it can take a significant period of time for a dispute to be recognized, it may be helpful to use this statement to let lenders know you are disputing the information in the report.
Contact the debt furnisher
You should consider going directly to the source of the error (the debt furnisher). Usually your lender, or possibly a debt collection agency. Should they recognize that the information on your report is false they will (or should) report it to the credit bureau. If they refuse you may be able to take action against them.
Ask for help
You might feel ill-equipped to deal with your credit dispute yourself. In this case, there are credit repair services available to advise you and speak with credit bureaus in your place.
The professional credit repair service we work with handles this situation like this. They will take over the dispute process on your behalf. IF you have the proof to show that this account is in error and the credit bureau won’t make the changes. They refer you to one of their credit attorneys who will send a legal letter on your behalf. And if need be, they will take the matter to court.
Persistence pays off
You need to realize that, for some, a credit dispute goes on and on for a significant length of time. If this is the case, it’s always best to persist with the dispute. Even though it might be disheartening, and seem easier to just give up the fight. The discrepancies will stick around damaging your credit if you do this.
Reduce your risk
Having your dispute flagged as frivolous can be a HUGE hurdle to overcome. It means that you have filed so many disputes that they feel you are just trying to do a “blanket clean” and they won’t waste the man power with your disputes anymore. Here are a few more tips to help make sure you don’t get the dreaded “frivolous” dispute letter.
- For each credit bureaus write a separate letter. Keep in mind your credit report can differ from each credit reporting agency. Disputing something as inaccurate when it is showing up correctly on that report, is a big red flag and you really ARE wasting their time with that dispute!
- Avoid listing every mistake in one dispute. You will run the risk of looking like you’re trying to eliminate every single piece of information that is working against you. Instead, send NO MORE than 2 or 3 disputes at a time, with around 2 months in between. When I was helping my sister we would dispute only 1 item at a time. It took us about 8 months to remove a lot of the negative items that were her ex-husbands and then she opted to hire a credit repair company to handle the ones that we were unsuccessful with.
- If the item truly isn’t yours, send evidence. Don’t just say not mine. The credit reporting agencies get that all the time. If you have no proof. Tell them this isn’t mine because….
- Type up or if your handwriting is NEAT you can handwrite your letter. Make sure you fix any grammatical or spelling errors!
- DO NOT use credit repair letters you find online! You can read them, but create your own unique letter.
- Write a letter that is polite. Make sure you reference the Fair credit and reporting act. You want them to know they are dealing with an informed consumer.