The fastest and easiest way to increase your credit score is to dispute any negative items on your credit report that are incorrect or not yours. If you haven’t checked your credit report in a couple of years, there are likely incorrect items that are hurting your credit. This is another reason to check your credit report every six months or so. When I checked my credit report after letting it go a couple of years I found two debts marked as CHARGE OFF that weren’t even mine. After disputing these items my credit score increased 70+ points.
Items that may have a negative impact on your credit score
Refer to my list of negative credit items when looking for inaccuracies to dispute.
Don’t forget to look over the “Personal Information” section of your credit report. This is the section that lists your current and previous employer(s) and address(es). Both of these can impact your credit score and they are often inaccurate. The calculation of your credit score takes into account how stable you appear to be. Therefore, if your credit report shows 15 previous addresses and 5 employers in the past 2 years it will lower your score by a dozen or so points. While personal details such as address and employer do have some impact, it’s not very much, so this should be the least of your worries if you have debt. Nonetheless, just double check for small inaccuracies such as multiple listings of the same address (this is very common).
How to dispute credit report inaccuracies
The credit reporting agencies have made the process of disputing an inaccurate item manageably simple. In most cases, however, it has been my experience that after you file a dispute, it can take them a couple of months to investigate and correct the error (don’t get freaked out if you haven’t heard anything in a month). It can be a particularly lengthy process if the item in question involves identity theft.
There are generally 3 ways to dispute an inaccuracy: online, by phone, or by mail. Do it online, because otherwise it will take forever. All 3 of the credit reporting agencies have online forms you can fill out to file a dispute. Very easy.
Here are links to the credit reporting agency’s dispute centers
Keep in mind: If an inaccuracy is listed on all three credit reports, you must dispute it with all three credit agencies.
Don’t dispute accurate entries
Some people will claim that you should dispute items even if they are completely accurate in hopes that the creditor will be unable (or unwilling) to verify the disputed item. I am advising you against this for a few reasons.
First, it’s against the law. Second, if the debt is a large amount you can bet your ass the creditor will take the time to prove it’s yours and it’s accurate. Third, if you attempt to file multiple disputes at once, the credit agency will lock you from filing a dispute for awhile.
Once the investigation is complete
Once the investigation is complete you will receive an email (if you filed online) that the correction has been made. Also, you will receive a free copy of your corrected credit report (this is required by law). Note: this does not count towards your free annual credit report. Depending on the item that was corrected your credit score will also change to reflect the correction. Again, getting inaccuracies corrected can greatly improve your score and in most cases it’s an easy process.