Should You Dispute Negatives On Your Credit Report?

Aug 18, 2010

Yes. And no.

Disreputable credit repair agencies will tell you to dispute every negative entry on your credit report – even if it’s truthful. Their theory is that when you keep disputing these entries month after month after month, they’ll get tired of you and just drop them.

And perhaps it works for some people in some circumstances. But you’re sure wasting a lot of your time and energy when it would be easier and better for you to simply work on repairing your credit through legitimate means.

So, if the negatives are accurate and their time limit has not expired, the answer is no. Don’t dispute them.

But… there are entries that you should dispute, because they are errors. And in fact, some of them could be evidence that your identity has been stolen.

These include:

  • Current accounts that are not yours – You haven’t opened an account at that department store, so why is an account showing up? Dispute it, and dig deeper to find out who did open it. You may need to report identity theft.
  • A new employer – who happens to be someone you don’t even know. Again, this can be a symptom of identity theft.
  • A change of address – when you haven’t moved. It could be a phony address that a thief is using temporarily.
  • Listing of a spouse who isn’t yours. Someone who stole your identity may not know your spouse’s name – and has thus listed a different spouse on a credit application.
  • Late payments, charge-offs, or collections that aren’t yours. This could be a sign of identity theft, or a data entry error.
  • Closed accounts that list anything but “paid as agreed” if you always paid on time and had paid in full when the account was closed.
  • Accounts listed as unpaid that were included and charged-off in a bankruptcy.
  • Accounts listed as unpaid that were, in fact, paid in full. This is a bookkeeping or record keeping error and needs to be corrected!
  • Negative items that have passed their “expiration date.” This is 7 years for most things, and 10 years for bankruptcy.


Some items are not worth disputing…

While it’s nice to keep everything accurate, some errors are not worth the time it takes to file a dispute.  Among these are:

  • Misspellings of your name – that’s a harmless data entry error
  • Listing of an old address – that’s just out of date information
  • An old employer listed as current – still no harm done
  • Incorrect reporting of who closed an account – you or the bank. This one sounds like it might be important, but it isn’t. What’s important is that the entry shows that you were paying as agreed while the account was open and that you no longer owe a balance.

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