Disputing a Late Payment or Arrears Marker on your Credit Report

Posted by Kirstie Brown in Credit Reports on 7 February 2020 - Kirstie is a Senior Credit Analyst at checkmyfile.

Many of us have been there – we have too many things on our mind so we may have missed a payment on our credit card or loan. But what happens when you check your Credit Report and spot a late payment or case of arrears that you know aren’t correct? Where do you stand and what can you do to rectify the error?

How do I dispute wrong information on my Credit Report?

We often hear cases from individuals who find themselves being declined a store card, loan or phone contract and have no idea what the cause is. The lender may point you towards obtaining a copy of your Credit Report, and in some cases there might not be anything obvious that would have resulted in an application being declined.

On the other hand, if you do not regularly check your Credit Report to keep an eye on the changing information, it is possible that a particular late payment entry or other negative payment history may have gone unnoticed until you find yourself declined for credit.

The first port of call is to check an up-to-date copy of your Credit Report, so you can see exactly what the lender checked when it assessed your application. Checking your Credit Report for yourself is vital so you can see which companies are reporting information in your details. You can try us free for 30 days, then just £14.99 per month. Cancel easily online anytime.

Contact the source of the information

The first thing to do if you find incorrect negative payment history is to speak to the company it relates to, to query why the entry has been made. For example, if you see a missed payment marker from your credit card provider, which you know is paid on time every month, contact that card provider directly. Although this may seem daunting or perhaps like a lost cause, contacting the source of the information is often the most effective way of getting the matter resolved.

The organisation named against the entry is in control of the data it has shared with the Credit Reference Agencies and it will be able to investigate this for you. Upon investigating further, any information it agrees is incorrect should be amended or removed as necessary at the relevant agency. There is no legal requirement for companies to share data with the Credit Reference Agencies, but by law they must ensure the information they do share is correct.

If the organisation responsible for the data agrees to amend its information, it should tell you how long it’ll be before the change is made, and you can check by viewing an updated copy of your Credit Report.

Contact its complaints department

In most cases, incorrect entries on Credit Reports are corrected with the initial contact. If the response you receive is unsatisfactory though, the next course of action would be to escalate the matter internally. Raising the matter as a formal complaint with the company that has reported the data ensures that your query is looked into thoroughly by an appropriate member of staff – it also allows for any service complaints to be addressed, which are separate to complaints regarding data sharing. This alone should help the issue be resolved, but importantly it lets you escalate the complaint further to the Financial Ombudsman if needed.

Raising a complaint through the Financial Ombudsman can take longer than dealing with the source company directly, but if you’ve been left with little other choice, it is advisable to contact the Ombudsman to carry on the complaint.

Contact the Credit Reference Agencies

While contacting the source organisation is the most effective method of correcting a Credit Report in a timely manner, you can instead raise a Notice of Dispute with the Credit Reference Agency (CRA) holding the information.

Disputing an entry on your Credit Report with a CRA directly will mean that the CRA needs to investigate whether the information is incorrect before any changes can be made. To do this, the CRA will contact the organisation that supplied the information and request to amend the data. Providing the source organisation gives permission, the CRA can amend your Credit Report for you.

CRAs have a statutory 28-day timeframe to investigate and provide a response to a dispute, so it often takes longer to hear back compared to disputing directly with the company responsible. It’s also important to note that because the CRAs are dependent on the source organisation (that owns the data) giving them permission to make any changes, if the company responsible believes it is in the right, it’s very unlikely to let the CRAs change the entry. If this happens, you will have spent nearly a month waiting for an unfavourable outcome.

That said, raising a dispute via the CRA can be useful in some situations, particularly if the source organisation has already admitted an error but is causing a fuss with actually fixing your Credit Report. There are also rare cases whereby another individual’s information features on your Credit Report, which the CRAs can correct themselves. Some specific entries like Financial Associations can only be removed by CRAs.

Raising disputes with all four Credit Reference Agencies on behalf of our customers is a service that we provide for those with active subscriptions. If you are unsure how to have incorrect entries made right, let us know through your checkmyfile account – a professionally qualified Credit Analyst will guide you through it.

How do I check my Credit Report?

Ensuring your Credit Report is correct is always important, especially if you’re looking to apply for credit. If you haven’t already, you can check your Multi Agency Credit Report free for 30 days, then just £14.99 per month, which you can easily cancel online, by email, or freephone. Our Multi Agency Credit Report is the most detailed in the UK, having complete information from the four Credit Reference Agencies, so you know you’re seeing everything.

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