If your loan application has been turned down, or if your interest rate is higher than it should be, the first thing you should do is find out why. Under federal law, a lender is required to tell you certain things if it denied your credit application or took “adverse action,” such as increasing your interest rate. These things include:
*The name, address, and telephone number of the credit reporting agency that provided the report the lender used;
* The credit score it used in making its lending decision and the key factors that affected this score;
* Inform you of your right to obtain a free copy of your credit report from the credit reporting agency that provided the report; and
* The process for fixing mistakes on your credit report.
This information will most likely be provided to you in a letter, called an adverse action notice. Once you have this letter, you should follow the instructions for obtaining a copy of the credit report that the lender used. It can usually be obtained online through the credit reporting agency’s website.
Once you have your credit report, you should review it for common errors. If you see accounts that don’t belong to you or accounts showing a balance that you’ve paid off, the next step is to dispute these errors with the credit bureaus.
It’s important to note that you must dispute the errors with the credit reporting agencies (ie. Experian, Equifax, or Trans Union) not the creditor (ie. Capital One, Wells Fargo, etc.) to protect your rights.
When the credit reporting agency receives your dispute, they are required to investigate. They are also required to communicate your dispute to the creditor that is reporting the inaccurate information. The creditor is also required to investigate your dispute. Generally, these investigations must be completed within 30 days and the credit reporting agency must notify you of the results of the investigations within 5 business days of the day the investigations were completed.
If the credit reporting agency hasn’t corrected the inaccurate information after completing its investigation, you might consider writing a more detailed dispute letter and providing additional documents or information to support your dispute. You may also consider talking to a lawyer who handles credit reporting cases for advice about what to do next. If the credit reporting agency or creditor didn’t conduct a reasonable investigation of your dispute, you may have legal claims against them under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. An attorney can advise you about these possible claims and help you with the next steps.