Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Specifically, free credit reports will be available weekly — instead of annually — through AnnualCreditReport.com (see link below) until April 2021. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
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Finding an error on your credit report is bad enough — then there’s the process of disputing that error, which can seem downright overwhelming. Fortunately, learning how to dispute a credit report error may not be as complicated as you might fear. If it’s a genuine mistake, you can likely get it removed if you follow the key steps to disputing a credit report error. This includes any errors that may be related to your student loans.
Read on to find out how to dispute a general credit report error, as well as special considerations on how to dispute student loans on your credit report.
Here are the 10 steps you should take, as applicable, in order to dispute an error on your credit report(s):
1. Look over your credit reports
2. Make note of errors
3. Prepare your supporting documentation
4. File a dispute for each error: Online
5. File a dispute for each error: Traditional mail
6. Make copies for your records
7. Wait for a response
8. If the credit bureau does not correct the error
9. Directly contact the information provider
10. Continue to keep tabs on your credit reports
Whether you saw them just a couple of months ago or it’s been well over a year, the first step to ensuring your credit report is free of errors is to check your information regularly. You can request your credit reports for free from each major credit bureau — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — every 12 months through AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can request a free copy of your credit reports within 60 days of being turned down for credit, insurance or employment; however, that only applies to the credit bureau the creditor used to make its lending decision. You may also request a free credit report if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days, if you’re on welfare or if your report is inaccurate due to fraud.
Outside of the free credit reports you are entitled to, you can purchase your credit reports at any time from the three major credit reporting agencies. Keep in mind that your credit reports are updated all the time, so when you’re ready to start the process of disputing a credit report, it’s important to ensure you’re looking at the same information the credit bureaus will be referencing.
Some mistakes might just jump out at you when you’re disputing credit reports — others may require a closer look.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), some of the most common credit reporting errors include identity errors and incorrect reporting of your account status, as well as data management and balance errors.
So, as you’re going through your credit reports, ask yourself:
- Are my name, address and phone number correct?
- Do all the accounts I see belong to me?
- Are any accounts showing as open that I know are actually closed?
- Are there any delinquent payments on accounts I’ve always paid on time?
- Are there any dates that don’t match up with when I opened the account, made my last payment or the first time I was late with a payment?
- Are there any multiple listings for the same account?
- Are there any debts listed on my reports that should have fallen off by now?
- Has any information that was previously corrected reappeared on my reports?
- Do any accounts show incorrect balances or credit limits?
Before you file your dispute, you’ll want to have all documentation in front of you. Start with a copy of the credit report that has the inaccurate listing. You may circle the listing in the credit report for the credit bureau’s reference.
Beyond that, the documentation you include will depend on the situation. For instance, if the report says you made a late credit card payment that you know you paid on time, include a copy of a bank statement that shows the date the payment cleared your account. Do the same for a late mortgage payment or any other kind of payment that is erroneously listed as late or unpaid.
Have you found one or more items on your credit report that you know are incorrect? It’s time to file your dispute.
You can file your dispute online for each bureau, and the advantage of this method is speed and ease.
For Experian, you’ll register first to get access to its dispute center (if you’ve not done so already). You’ll just have to provide some basic information, such as your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. You can also directly contact Experian by phone to get the dispute process going, but the online process may be faster and easier. You can go here to get started with registration.
For TransUnion, you will need to set up an account as well, then select “New Investigation” to begin the process. Go here to get started.
Equifax also requires you to create an account in order to submit an online dispute; you can go here to do so.
Once you’ve registered for an online account with one or all of the credit bureaus, you can file your disputes as directed. You may also upload your supporting documents as needed.
While the online dispute process may be the fastest and easiest method for many, there are some people who may prefer to deal with traditional mail when it comes to financial disputes. If that’s your preference, you can sit down and write or type a dispute letter for each error you find.
Experian’s address for disputes:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Equifax’s dispute address is:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
TransUnion’s address is:
TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000
Get right to the point in your letter and be sure to include the following:
- Note general information, such as:
- The date
- Your name, address, phone number and Social Security number
- The name and address of the credit reporting bureau
- State that you’re writing to dispute an inaccurate listing and ask that it be removed or corrected.
- State the account name and account number of the listing you are disputing.
- Describe the inaccuracy in your credit report.
- State why you believe the listing to be inaccurate, providing a thorough explanation and citing any supporting documentation you are including with the letter.
You can use sample letter as a guideline.
Before dropping your dispute letters in the mail, make copies of them for your files.
Do the same with all of your documentation, but be sure to keep the originals and send the copies — after all, items can get lost in the mail. Keeping the originals will give you peace of mind, and ensure you have everything you need if you have to resend the letter and documentation.
To avoid the possibility of your letter being lost without your knowing it, send your disputes through certified mail with a return receipt requested. Upon receipt, the return request postcard will be mailed back to you, providing proof that the document was received and on what exact date.
The credit reporting bureaus typically have 30 days to respond to your dispute. One exception may be if they find your dispute “frivolous,” per the FTC. (Of course, you should always ensure the dispute you are filing is 100% legitimate.)
Note that if you send in additional information during the 30-day period, the credit bureau is allowed to extend its response time to a total of 45 days.
You may also receive alerts from the credit bureaus noting that they have received your dispute and are working on it. If you do not hear from them once 30 or more days have passed, you should contact them by phone to reference your previous correspondence and ask about the status of your dispute.
You may not get the result you’re hoping for at the end of a credit dispute investigation. If that’s the case, you can ask the credit bureau to include the statement of your dispute in your file and in future reports. That way, it will remain on record that you have disputed an item that is still on your credit report, though you will likely have to pay a fee for this service.
In an extreme case, you might opt to hire a lawyer who specializes in credit disputes to fight the inaccuracy on your report.
Your dispute does not only have to include the credit bureaus: You can dispute an item directly through the information provider (the institution that reported what you think is inaccurate information in the first place). The Fair Credit Reporting Act notes that both the credit reporting company and the information provider are responsible for correcting inaccurate information on your report, so you can exercise your rights by contacting both.
Put this dispute with the information provider into writing, just as you did with your communications to the bureaus. You may be able to find the information provider’s address on your credit report. If not, you can contact them directly to get it.
If you file a dispute with the information provider, a notice of your dispute should be included any time the institution reports the information to a credit bureau. If the information does indeed prove to be incorrect, the information provider must tell the credit reporting agency to update or delete the inaccurate item.
Once the disputing process has ended, ensure the item has been removed from your credit report or reports. Then continue to be vigilant about checking your reports in case another error occurs. Always take advantage of those free annual credit reports noted in step 1, and put them to good use.
Like mortgage loans and credit card charges, student loans, both federal and private, are also included in your credit report. For the most part, this is a good thing, as regular, responsible student loan payments can help you boost your credit.
As with any other institution that reports to the credit bureaus, however, you may experience student loan errors on your credit report. Perhaps a late payment is reported, even though you know you made that payment. Maybe you consolidated a student loan, yet the lender you’re no longer dealing with still has you listed as a borrower. Perhaps you’ve even paid your student loans off, but they’re still showing up with a balance on your credit report.
A student loan dispute will be handled in the same way you handle any other dispute on your credit report; the above steps will generally suffice. That said, here are a few things specific to disputing a student loan entry on your credit report:
- You may want to contact your student loan lender as a first step, before filing a dispute with the credit bureaus. Student loans are, in many ways, more flexible than other types of loans (for example, they offer income-driven repayment plans, as well as forbearance and deferment options). Student loan lenders may be willing to work with you to correct the error and contact the bureaus.
- If this does not work, file the dispute with the bureaus as detailed above.
- If the dispute cannot be resolved, you might consider contacting a student loan lawyer.
Read more on how student loans affect your credit score.
Managing your credit
Dealing with an error on your credit report is frustrating, especially if you’re always careful to pay your bills on time. However, all is not lost if this happens: You can dispute the error and request it get taken off your report if you follow the above steps. If need be, you can also consult legal counsel to deal with an error that remains on your report even after the dispute.
Overall, in order to keep your credit reports and credit score in good shape, be sure to make all your payments on time, keep your credit utilization ratio low and hold on to your older credit cards to maintain a longer history. You can go here to find out how to check your credit score online for free, and here to read about seven surprisingly simple ways to help improve your credit score.
Rebecca Stropoli contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.66%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.64%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.98% – 8.55%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 10/15/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.98% APR to 8.55% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.