It is important to keep track of your credit score and debt at all times. Most of the time, as long as bills are paid on time there are few, if any problems with your credit report. Occasionally, however, there will be an error that needs to be disputed before your credit is completely ruined. The error could be as minor as a bill that the credit card company reported as late when it was on time. It could be as severe as an account showing up that does not belong to you. Either way, in order to protect your credit score, it is important to know how to dispute these charges.
The first and most important step in disputing debt is to identify any debt that does not belong on your credit report. This includes debt that has been paid off or settled, but not reported as such. It includes debt that is older than 7 years. It also includes any debt that does not belong to you at all which may be a stolen identity, but could also simply be mistaken identity.
Once any information that doesn’t belong has been identified, it is time to look at the contact information for the company that is reporting the debt. Send a certified, return receipt requested letter to them stating that this is not a valid debt. Also notify the credit reporting agency that this is not a valid debt. They will also verify this with the company that is reporting the the debt. Between the two, this should erase things that truly do not belong.
On occasion, additional proof may be required that the debt does not belong on your credit report. This is especially true of debts that have already been paid or settled. Debt collection agencies will try to buy this debt for pennies on the dollar and collect whether the debt is owed or not. In these cases, it will be necessary to gather whatever proof you have, including letters that say the debt has been paid, and dispute the debt directly with the credit reporting agency.
It is important to keep your credit report as clean as possible at all times. By checking it yearly, and disputing any debts that do not belong, this will keep your credit as clean as possible. This allows you to be prepared should you ever need to use your credit.