The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to expect the items on your credit reports to be accurate. However, the truth is that credit report errors still occur. Thankfully when errors and mistakes do pop up on your credit reports the same law which gives you the right to expect accurate credit reports also gives you the right to challenge any item on your credit report you believe to be incorrect. This challenge process is known as a “dispute.” Here is a step-by-step look at what the credit report dispute process looks like behind the scenes.
Submitting the Dispute
Step one in any credit report dispute process begins when you, the consumer, notify an appropriate party that you disagree with an item on your credit report(s). The dispute is most commonly submitted to the credit reporting agencies (CRAs) themselves (Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian) and can be initiated via mail, online, by fax, or over the phone. However, many consumers do not realize that you can also initiate a dispute directly with the company who supplied the allegedly inaccurate information to the credit reporting agencies – aka the “data furnisher.” Additionally, if you have already filed a dispute with the credit reporting agencies directly you also have the right to file a concurrent dispute with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Whenever you dispute an item on your credit reports with the credit reporting agencies they are required by the FCRA to mark the item in question as “in dispute” on your credit reports. If you initiated your dispute directly with the data furnisher then they are required themselves to notify all 3 credit reporting agencies that the item is being challenged and must be marked as “in dispute.” In order to add the “in dispute” notation to an item on your credit reports a 2-character Compliance Condition Code, the “XB” code to be exact, is appended to the item in question. When the “XB” code is attached the account will appear on your credit reports with a statement which reads something along the lines of “Consumer disputes, investigation in process.”