How quickly will my credit score update after an error is removed?

Whether you’re disputing an error on your credit report yourself or working with a credit repair service to improve your credit, you’re probably wondering how long you can expect to wait for that credit score bump. Just remember that a low credit score can be many years of bad money management in the making and removing errors from a credit report does not happen overnight. A lot depends on timing issues, how you dispute the error and whether the error actually affected your credit score.

In my experience, I would say you can expect to wait approximately 60 days (sometimes more, sometimes less) to see a positive credit score change from disputing an error that affected your credit score negatively.

What errors can be removed from your credit report?

If any line entry reported on your credit report is legitimate and listed accurately (or can be verified by the provider that the information is accurate) then by law, you owe the debt and it cannot be removed from your credit report.

The only way it can come off your credit report is after 7 years (or 10 years in the case of some bankruptcies) have passed from the date of your last payment. Most unpaid student loan debt and unpaid tax liens can stay on your credit report indefinitely.

One way to find out if the information can be verified is to challenge the negative information listed on the report and if any of that is inaccurate and cannot be substantiated, then the item must be removed from your credit report.

Word of warning: If, for example, an incorrect account number dispute results in the account being removed from your credit report because you verified the debt with the correct account number, then the provider (collection agency or creditor) will often update their records with the now-proven accurate information and report it correctly to the credit bureau in the following month.

Errors you can dispute that affect your credit score

If you can dispute and correct any errors involving balances, payments and accounts, which are all factors that affect your credit score, it will most often result in a credit score bump.

  • Incorrect balance information
  • Outdated collections, judgements and defaults (those older than 7 years) except defaulted student loans and unpaid tax liens
  • Any accounts that are not yours
  • A late payment you can prove was made on time

Errors you can remove that may not affect your credit score

These items do not involve factors relating to your credit score, unless they result in accounts that are not yours being listed on your credit report, so they will often re-appear corrected after being removed and not result in the desired score bump.

  • Incorrect account numbers
  • Misspelling of your name or wrong birth date

How credit bureaus remove disputed errors

Most lenders, creditors and collection agencies report your account payment and balance information to the credit bureaus they work with (which could be all three or not) once per month.

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), both the credit bureaus and the creditor, collections agency or provider of the account information are responsible for reporting it accurately and correcting mistakes or incomplete information in your report.

Credit bureau dispute resolution: The first 30-45 days

FCRA provides that credit bureaus must investigate any item you dispute within 30 days of receiving your dispute (unless they deem your dispute frivolous). Sometimes they are allowed an additional 15 days if more information is included later than the original dispute. This includes forwarding all the proof you provide to the original provider of the disputed information to review, investigate and report its results back to the credit bureau. For this reason and to provide a paper trail, most credit experts advise using snail mail instead of the online challenge/dispute form so you can attach enough supporting documents proving there was a mistake reported as well as the correct information all at one time.

If the original creditor finds the disputed information is in fact not reported accurately, it must notify all three credit bureaus to correct the wrong or incomplete information in your file or remove the disputed account if the account in question cannot be substantiated was not yours or was outdated.

The FTC also advises that if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction or found in your favor you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included at that time in your file and in future reports.

The credit score update: The next 30-45 days

Once your dispute is resolved and results in a change to the information reported on your credit report that affects your credit score, it can take approximately 30 more days to see the change in your credit score. But this also depends on when during the month the correction or deletion occurred and when different credit score models, which you can track yourself on any of the free credit score sites, are updated, also usually once per month. The same goes for negative changes such as missing a payment, maxing out a credit card or having an account be sent to collections.

Because the credit reporting agencies do not remove correct and verifiable accounts from a report (until it has aged off) I don’t recommend using highly advertised and controversial “pay for delete” services.

What to do while you are waiting

Keep a timeline of your disputes so you will know when the first 30 days has passed so that if you don’t hear back from the credit bureau that week, you can follow up on your dispute by phone and mail. Once you have received notice that your dispute has resolved in your favor resulting in a change to your credit report, check your credit score the next time it updates. Remember that credit scores also usually update once per month, so you may have to wait another 30 days to see results reflect in your credit score.

When checking your credit reports annually, if you notice a small error on your credit report, you can certainly try to dispute it yourself.

But, you may need help from a reputable, experienced credit repair company if you have many negative accounts, collections or other serious credit problems or errors listed on your credit report.

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