Sunday Reader Question: Disputing Negative Information on Credit Reports

by on September 9, 2012 · 11 comments

in Credit Cards, Credit FAQ, Credit Repair, Sunday Reader Questions

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TPG reader David asks:

“My wife recently had trouble getting approved for cards. I got a copy of her credit report and found out that there have been a number of late payments on her student loan, which her parents are responsible for. Have you had any history or know if that is something that we can/should dispute? I guess the real question is, can something that is opened in her name be disputed because she is not the one paying it?”

Once you take out a line of credit or loan in your name, you are responsible for making sure the payments are made in a timely fashion. Creditors don’t care who makes the payment (by the way it’s very nice her parents agreed to cover those fees) and if you are late, you can be sure they will report it to the credit-reporting agencies.

Credit agencies do give you the option to dispute items, but “my parents messed up” isn’t one of them. I’d personally call the student loan company and explain to them the situation. They may agree to take some of the negative items off your report- but just make sure your account is in good standing! It never hurts to ask.

If not, there are two ways to dispute with each credit bureau: online and via certified mail. I had some truly bogus items on my report that I disputed online and they were taken off within 45 days. This website is a great resource for learning how to mount your dispute. While I don’t think your reason is valid, you may be able to dispute them and have some taken off. Never hurts to try and it is free to dispute.

This is a great reminder to anyone who wants to get into opening credit cards for miles and points- know your credit score and make sure your report is free of errors. You can check or go to each reporting agencies website (,, They will give free reports, but make sure they don’t sign you up for the monitoring service automatically. If they do, make sure to cancel it right away.

For more information on how credit scores work, check out this post.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • LivelyFL

    “….late payments on her student loan, which her parents are responsible for.”


  • Eric Melchor

    “Parents are responsible”??

    I guess her school did not teach self responsibility.

  • Scott S

    I have a question that’s a little more complex with regard to credit reporting. I have a pretty common first name and an uber common last name, so I get items on my credit report occasionally that I have to dispute, because they aren’t my debt. Case in point, 2 weeks ago, I got an alert saying I had a collections item on my report from an agency acting on behalf of Dish Network for $169. Problem is, I’ve never had Dish before in my life. I disputed the charge and received the resolution that it was going to be deleted, but this was the 2nd time this happened to me with the same Dish Network balance.

    I called the collection agency and they apologized (didn’t have my SSN, and did have addresses that weren’t mine, other than a PO Box with the exact number of one I had 15 years ago, but slightly different zip code – that was their match to me…ridiculous), but said they would be selling the account in January to another agency, so it might pop up on my credit report again.

    Since I’m into card churning now, having this as a possibility out there is quite discouraging. If I put a fraud alert on my account, I’m almost certain to have to jump through tons more hoops in my next churn cycle (which I planned for in early December). Is there a better resolution than to sit back and wait for it to appear on my report again in January by the next collections agency and go through the dispute process until they finally give up on it?

  • Polo

    Ungrateful child.

  • Jeremy H

    You have rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act – if the CRAs do not properly investigate and correct those entries, they would be liable to you for a hefty sum. Which state do you live in?

  • Scott S

    Thanks for the reply. I live in Florida. I’ve never had a problem getting them removed when I challenge it, but considering there is no exact tie to my credit, I’m concerned as to why it appears in the first place, and how they even have the right to do that?

  • Jeremy H

    They don’t have the right to publish false information, but the FCRA does give them a bit of a safe harbor to fix problems before allowing liability. I suggest you contact a local consumer rights attorney who has experience with FCRA litigation to handle this matter.

  • what the heck

    How funny does that sound? Student loan her parents are responsible for. The student (daughter and husband should be responsible for the loan, not them) It just shows how kids think their parents must pay everything. Her husband the author of this post should be stepping up. This makes me laugh like others here on this post.

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  • Red G.

    My advice (as a debt erasure and credit repair consultant) is to refi (called consolidation) these tarnished loan accounts into one new loan. Go to for the process.

    Then, once all tarnished accounts are reflected as “paid in full” through the consolidation process, you can demand to have them removed; they are no longer active debt accounts and have no business staying on your reports at all at that point.

    Hope that helps!

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