Credit Repair

How to Dispute Negative Credit

Guide to Dispute Negative Credit

Disputing negative credit can improve your credit history and raise credit scores. Credit repair often involves several strategies and learning how to dispute negative credit is a significant strategy in repairing bad credit.

Other credit repair strategies include debt validation, debt settlement, paying credit obligations on time and adding positive information to your credit reports. Having good credit is immeasurable!

Because the major credit reporting agencies deal with millions of bits and pieces of information for millions of consumers, mistakes occur on a regular basis. Errors are made, inaccurate and even erroneous information is reported and you have every right to dispute that information.

how to dispute negative credit on credit reports


Order Credit Reports
Get the 3 major credit bureau credit reports from Experian, Transunion and Equifax. Review your credit reports and mark the items to be disputed. All negative information may or may not appear on every credit report so make sure you dispute with the appropriate credit bureau. Order your credit reports for free every 12 months at


Avoid Online Disputes if possible
Initiating credit disputes online is convenient but disputing credit mistakes online may lead you to dispute every negative item at once. Do not make this mistake! Disputing every negative item, especially if you have many of them, may lead to your dispute being marked as frivolous. Frivolous credit disputes can prevent an item from being investigated. The credit reporting agencies can reject further disputes for up to 12 months. Additionally, online disputes limit the facts on which you can challenge a negative credit item and may prohibit you from sending any documentation in support of the dispute. Unless you are doing a simple dispute like a negative item is obsolete and too old to be on your credit report, written disputes are typically better.




Write Your Dispute Letter
Writing a straightforward, precise dispute letter is imperative. You want your letter read, acted upon, and not discarded as frivolous. Keep good records as you may need them later. The credit reporting agencies have 30 days after receipt of the dispute to conduct an investigation and resolve the matter.

If you have documentation to support your dispute include that with your dispute letter. Send one dispute letter at a time and only include a few negative items per dispute letter. Wait for your results and follow-up with another dispute if necessary but wait at least 60 days. See “How to Write a Dispute Letter.”


Create An Emergency
The credit bureaus receive a vast amount of disputes daily so make sure you create an emergency in order for the dispute to be taken seriously. Let them know you are in the process of obtaining a mortgage or auto loan and the errors in your report are hurting your chances of being approved or causing the lender to only offer subprime interest rates. You may even be job hunting and need a clean credit report to get hired. Those are just examples but you get the drift.


Collection Agency Debt
Starting the dispute process may alert debt collectors you are attempting to repair your credit. Be aware that once you begin the dispute process you may have to deal with debt that is still within the state of limitations which means you could be sued by a debt collector.


Where to Start
Begin the dispute process with the credit reporting agencies first. You may get the negative item deleted and no further action has to be taken. If you start disputing directly with a creditor first, you could end up engaging in a longer battle to get an item deleted.
where to start credit repair


Deletion is the Goal
Request full deletions when disputing credit, especially for credit score killing items such as collection accounts. Having an item changed from “collection” to “paid collection” will not help your credit score. Paid and unpaid collection items hold the same weight as they are both negative tradelines. See Deletions


Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Be careful about disputing old debts. You could bring the debt back to life by disputing it and awaken the creditor’s or collection agency’s interest in collecting the debt.

If the debt is within the Statute of Limitations you could get sued. If the statute of limitations has expired, you are safe from a lawsuit. Be careful not to do anything that may re-start the statute of limitations by acknowledging, making a payment or even agreeing to pay on the debt.

The below chart shows why leaving older negative items alone may not hurt your credit score. As a negative item gets older, the percentage it’s calculated into your credit score dramatically decreases. In fact, once a negative item is 48 months and older, it is no longer being used in calculating your credit score.



How Long Negative Credit Affects Credit Scores
Age of Negative Item
Most recent 12 months
Prior 12-24 months
Prior 24-36 months
Prior 36-48 months
48 months and older

Percent Calculated in Credit Score



Factual Based Disputes
Credit item disputes based upon factual errors stand a greater chance of being deleted. Disputes that are based on actual errors that go uncorrected by the credit reporting agencies are in violation of the FCRA. Violations of the FCRA give you leverage to get negative items deleted. The credit reporting agencies are required to report factually accurate information. Your disputes can be based off any detail that is not accurate. here are several examples of factual disputes.


Account Not Mine
This is a common dispute and some times it works. But verifying an “account not mine” dispute is easily done by the credit reporting agencies. Do not waste a lot of time disputing an account as not yours when it really is yours. Factually based disputes are a lot harder for credit bureaus to verify and there may be several facts to dispute.

However, make sure you dispute one factual reason at a time as you may not get the desired result the first time. Save some factually based disputes for future disputes, if needed.

account not mine



 add positive credit to credit reports
New Credit
During the dispute process try to curtail applying for new credit. Credit repair does involve adding positive information to your credit files but wait until you have completed the dispute process.


Make a game plan
Use other credit repair strategies such as disputing directly with the creditor; debt validation or even debt settlement if; after final re-investigation, you do not get the desired results.


During the dispute process just remember that credit repair is legal and you have the legal right to question negative items in your credit files. Disputing bad credit is a process, one that takes time and can be tedious.

If you do not have the time to dispute bad credit, consider Lexington Law. They have assisted clients in removing 4,833,329 negative items in 2013 alone. Those negative credit items included: Bankruptcies, Foreclosures, Tax Liens, Repossessions, Judgments, Collections, Late revolving credit payments, and Inquiries.



  1. Raj

    July 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Hi Lisa,

    My name is Raj,I have a problem with my credit Jan 2011 i canceled y phone service, and in a span of one month i received collection notice to pay my bill, and i paid the amount fully,but still my credit report shows that i have a collections report on my account which stated that i paid, is that account still effect my credit score?what can I do to take that of my credit report?


    • Lisa Phillips

      July 19, 2015 at 11:43 am

      A paid collection on credit reports has the same negative impact as an unpaid collection in terms of your credit score. But if a lender is manually reviewing your credit report a paid collection goes a long way in a decision to approve a credit application. Since you already paid the collection account a pay for delete agreement would not work in your situation. You may want to try a goodwill letter simply asking the collection agency to delete the paid account from your credit reports. You can also try to disputing the collection account based upon some inaccuracy or error.

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