Credit Reporting Agencies are offering consumers the ability to dispute information on their credit report via a direct on-line option under the premise that the dispute will be resolved quicker and faster. While CRAs are probably correct that the dispute can be processed faster on-line, I believe that it is difficult to provide the type of information necessary in an on-line dispute that is necessary to obtain the desired result of the removal of an inaccurate credit account from your credit report. In my opinion, the best way to dispute an inaccurate credit report is with a descriptive written letter about the inaccuracy that includes attachments that support your position.
Under 15 U.S.C. 1681i (a)(1) of the FCRA, a credit reporting agency must conduct a “reasonable investigation” of disputed credit information after receiving notice of the dispute from the consumer. Moreover, the CRA must provide the furnisher with all relevant information about the dispute after receiving the dispute from the consumer. By engaging in the on-line dispute process, a consumer is limiting the amount of information that can be provided, which could alter the quality of the reinvestigation process.
Credit Reporting Agencies presumably like on-line disputes because it allows them to process the disputes cheaper by eliminating the need for an employee to review a dispute letter with attachments. Because the consumer is directly entering information for the dispute, the CRA has the ability to blame the consumer for not providing enough information in the event that the dispute results in an otherwise inaccurate account remaining on the consumer’s credit report. Given the siginificant drawbacks of engaging in the on-line dispute process, I personally would not dispute an inaccurate credit account on-line through the credit reporting agency. I would always send a full and complete written dispute letter with supporting documentation for the best chance to have the bad account removed from your credit report. For additional information about what happens to your dispute letter after you mail it to a credit reporting agency, please see my previous post: