Are you about ready to sit down and work on some serious credit repair? Before you do, here’s a few very common credit repair mistakes to keep in mind so you don’t see dozens of hours of time and effort go straight down the drain.
1. Disputing Online
This is one of the worst things you can do when disputing anything on your credit report. Online dispute forms provided by the credit bureaus sometimes only allow for a limited number of reasons for dispute. Not only that, but you have no paper trail, you’re making things too easy for the credit bureaus, and you give up some of your key consumer rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Send your disputes through the mail, and send them certified so you can hold them to the 30 day legal timeline for verification.
2. Not Requesting Method of Verification if a Dispute Comes Back Verified
Credit bureaus and creditors can be downright lazy and sloppy when processing disputes. It’s not uncommon for an item to come back as verified, when it fact, hardly anything was actually done to verify it. You have the right to demand what’s called method of verification under FCRA section 611(a)(7). This forces the credit bureau to document exactly how they verified the information.
3. Not Being Specific Enough
Despite the boilerplate dispute reasons the online dispute forms show, when disputing in writing you can be as specific as you want to be (and you should) about why you’re challenging an incorrect listing. The bottom line is, the more specific you can be, the more chance you have of an item being corrected properly or being deleted.
4. Disputing Entries Right Before The Statue of Limitations is Up
If you have an active collection account on your credit report and things have been quiet for a while, you could trigger a lawsuit and wake a sleeping giant if you go disputing it shortly before the statute of limitations is up. If you’re only a few months away from the statute of limitations, wait it out, then dispute all you want. They could still try to sue you, but at that point they really don’t have a leg to stand on.
5. Submitting Frivolous Disputes
This is pretty obvious, but sending in a long list disputing everything as “not my account” is a sure fire way to get flagged for frivolous disputes. Take the time to put some smart and strategic effort into things.
6. Inadvertently Verifying Your Own Dispute
Being specific with your disputes is an excellent thing to do, but be cautious not to say so much that you inadvertently verify your dispute. Keep the burden of proof on the credit bureaus and creditors.
7. Using Template Dispute Letters
Credit bureaus are highly automated in their verification efforts, which makes it easy for them to compare and detect your letter against all those repair template letters floating around. Depending on the situation and nature of your dispute, it could get your dispute flagged as frivolous. Now, it’s fine to use template letters for ideas, but find simple ones and write them in your own words. There’s no need at all to go off citing a bunch of legal language in a standard dispute letter. There’s also reports of credit bureaus using OCR software to expedite and further automate disputes, so a handwritten letter on yellow legal paper may be even better. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer that an actual human process any disputes I send in.
If you’re working on your own credit repair, stay mindful of all those common mistakes so you don’t waste your time and effort. It’s important to plan out a strategy with all 3 of your credit reports.
Above all, be persistent and patient. It’s unrealistic to expect that you’re going to get it all done overnight. Typically, credit repair takes several months of diligent follow-up and a little bit of focused time each month.
If you hire someone to do it for you, just be careful who you pick. There’s a lot of scams and unethical services either charging too much or making unrealistic promises about what they can accomplish for you.