Error Keeps Reappearing on Credit Report

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If you’ve found errors in your credit report, you may be taking steps to correct them by disputing with the credit bureaus in order to delete this erroneous information. You might wonder — can deleted information reappear?  What happens if this occurs?

Fortunately, there are laws in place to prevent unfair reinsertions. Regardless, consumers often report feeling helpless to do anything about the problem. Case in point, we recently received this question via Twitter:

Q. What do I do when a credit reporter continues to make the same mistake over & over? I call, they fix, then the error returns.

There are a number of questions that I have about this tweet as information is missing.  (Tweeters have difficulty explaining a whole scenario in 140 characters or less.)

  • Was the dispute made directly with the credit bureaus, or was the dispute made only with the creditor who reported the information?
  • Was the dispute made strictly using the telephone?
  • How was the reappearance of the item discovered?  Did the tweeter pull his credit report, or did he get a notice from the credit bureaus that the item would be reinserted?
  • Did the tweeter actually see that the item had indeed been removed by reviewing a previous copy of his credit report?

In my answer, I will cover all of these scenarios.

It Matters How The Dispute was made and to Whom

It depends how and to whom the dispute was made when determining the laws governing a reinsertion.  A creditor or credit bureau may reinsert the item under certain circumstances.

Disputes Made Over the Telephone

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If you received verbal confirmation the error would be removed over the telephone, this may not be enough to force a reinsertion off your report.  In general, as with most financial matters, you want a paper or electronic trail — it’s extremely difficult to enforce a verbal contract.  If possible, it’s always best to maintain written proof of any credit report error.

If you file a dispute with the credit bureaus over the telephone, you will receive a confirmation number that you can save for your records.   Any updates to your credit reports will reference this confirmation number.

Disputes Made with the Credit Furnisher/Reporter

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the law governing how your credit information is stored and distributed.  Under this law, creditors are not required to report information to the credit bureaus, but any information reported must be accurate.  Under the FCRA, consumers are allowed to dispute information directly with anyone reporting credit information (called information furnishers).  If information is reinserted, the furnisher must certify that the reinserted information is correct.

Disputes Made With the Credit Bureaus

Under the FCRA, an item cannot be reinserted into your credit report without written notice by a credit bureau to the consumer within 5 business days of the reinsertion. The letter from the credit bureaus must include:

  1. A statement that the disputed information has been reinserted.
  2. The business name and address of the persons reporting the information, along with a phone number if reasonably available.
  3. Information explaining the right of the consumer to add a statement to their credit report disputing the accuracy of the information.

In addition, the FCRA states that a credit bureau shall “maintain reasonable procedures designed to prevent the reappearance in a consumer’s file and in consumer reports on the consumer of information that is deleted”.

Most Common Reasons an Item Will Reappear

Sometimes a credit bureau will remove an item disputed by a consumer because the investigation period is over.  Under the FCRA, bureaus must remove information if they cannot complete an investigation within 30-45 days.  However, the bureaus may receive information about a listing showing it to be accurate after the investigation period is over.  At this point, the bureau may reinsert the listing — but with the required notice to the consumer mentioned above.

Another reason an item may reappear is that an information furnisher’s computer database may not be updated following a dispute resolution.  Most information furnishers report their information through an automated system once a month.  Upon receiving and verifying information that a listing is inaccurate, the information furnisher may submit an individual request, separate from the monthly cycle, to the bureaus to remove an item.  However, they may never update their permanent records to remove the inaccurate information and the item reappears after the next monthly reporting cycle to the bureaus.  This type of reinsertion is entirely unfair and should be confronted quickly whenever it occurs.

If an Item Reappears

All violations of the FCRA are treated seriously and can result in a $1000 fine, payable to you, should you successfully sue the offender and win in court.   Sometimes merely notifying a creditor or credit bureau of a violation is enough to get the item removed.

Should an offender refuse to cooperate with you after notification of FCRA violations, and you are not willing or able to go to court, you could report the violation to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and let them pursue the matter.   Make sure the offender is aware you are reporting them to one or both of these two agencies.  This should get their attention.  When governmental agencies confront such problems, however, the consumer isn’t eligible for the $1000 statutory reward that might otherwise be payable should the matter be resolved in the consumer’s favor in court.

Disputes Made with the Credit Furnisher/Reporter

If you were told that the item will be removed, and it is not, this is not reinsertion.  If an item was never deleted from a credit report, then it can’t be “reinserted.”

If you’ve provided proof to the information furnisher multiple times that a listing is incorrect, and the item remains within your reports, the credit bureaus may not be at fault as the furnisher is certifying the information as correct.  Like consumers, credit bureaus can be victimized by incorrect data too. You might want to report this creditor to the FTC and/or CFPB or think about legal action.

Disputes Made With the Credit Bureaus

Whenever you are disputing items on your credit report, you should keep copies of past reports in case they reappear.  In addition, if you disputed a listing in writing, you should receive a letter from the bureaus regarding the results of your dispute and any deletions that occur.  Make sure you save all copies.

Should an item be reinserted on your credit report without proper notification or certification, it’s usually a matter of writing to a credit bureau and informing them of the violation to get them to re-remove the reinserted item. Sending proof that the item was reinserted (with copies of your old reports) can result in a positive consumer outcome.

Posted in Credit Repair
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