Jul 212008

Better think again.

I get asked many questions about credit and credit repair. It’s what I do. Anytime the occasion arises where I’m able to help someone I’m glad to help out. One of the questions that keeps coming up nowadays is – ‘Should I dispute my credit report online?’

The short answer is ‘NO.’ But the reason behind it might surprise you.

The credit bureaus have made it easy for consumers to dispute the accuracy of credit reports online. You can simply go to one of their websites such as www.experian.com and enter ‘dispute’ in the search window. It will take you to a page where you can request an online dispute. Simple!

But when you look down at the bottom of the page you will see three conditions that you must agree to in order to proceed. One of them is simply that you agree to the terms and conditions. Be wary of these!

The first item tells us that they are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Another condition that you are ‘agreeing’ to states:

• Once an item has been verified by the credit grantor, you may not dispute the same item again without providing additional relevant information.

The line that says Experian is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is important. Also important – and the part that sends chills down my spine – is the part that I highlighted in red. This sentence might sound innocent enough, but if you look deeper, it’s easy to identify the problem.

First, the FCRA says this is about your right to re-dispute information on your credit report (section 611):

‘…if the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in a consumer’s file at a consumer reporting agency is disputed by the consumer and the consumer notifies the agency directly, or indirectly through a reseller, of such dispute, the agency shall, free of charge, conduct a reasonable reinvestigation to determine whether the disputed information is inaccurate and record the current status of the disputed information, or delete the item from the file in accordance with paragraph (5), before the end of the 30-day period beginning on the date on which the agency receives the notice of the dispute from the consumer or reseller.’

Remember a couple of paragraphs back when Experian reminded us that they were regulated by the FCRA? It’s interesting to note that an agency regulated by this act that is in place to protect consumers asks consumers to sign their rights away when they opt for the convenience of online disputing. Clearly they are trying to make an end run around the very law that regulates them. Shame on Experian.

When they tell us that ‘You must agree to the three statements below to dispute information in your credit report’ I must disagree. In fact, I would say that ‘you must NOT’ agree to those statements. Instead, type out your dispute, send it to the bureaus, as many times as you wish, and let them do their homework.

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