What happens to your credit score when you dispute it?

By Athenkosi Sawutana

At times you may doubt the accuracy of your credit score. Perhaps you expected it to be higher, based on your credit history, or maybe it's taken a drop for no reason. 

But can you call the credit bureau and lodge a dispute? Justmoney finds out if it’s possible to dispute your credit score and the impact it will have.

Tip: Register here to get your full credit report.

Your credit score indicates your creditworthiness. In other words, it indicates how good you’ve been at paying your debts.

According to Jeannine Naudé Viljoen, general counsel at TransUnion, you can’t dispute your credit score. However, you can dispute the information on your credit report.

“Your credit score is derived from the credit information contained on your credit report. Therefore, it’s important to access and understand your credit report in order to establish any inaccuracies which you can dispute,” she says.

The information in your credit report is provided to credit bureaus by various credit and data providers such as, but not limited to, financial institutions, retail stores, insurers, and cell phone companies via the South African Credit Risk Reporting Association or by other service providers.

When this information changes, your credit score will change. However, mistakes can be made. 

“If you regularly check your credit report you put yourself in a better position to make sure your report accurately reflects your credit history and payment behaviour,” says Viljoen.

If you find a mistake or inaccurate information in your credit report, you can immediately take the matter up with the credit bureau. This is what is known as lodging or submitting a dispute.

READ MORE: How to read and improve your credit score

How does disputing affect your credit score?

Whether your credit score changes or not will depend on the outcome of your dispute. However, you must also remember that some information has no impact on your credit score. This includes personal information such as your name and your address.

If there are accounts you don’t know about in your credit report and your dispute results show that you’re right, your credit score will go down. However, if the results show that you indeed have those accounts, your credit score will remain the same.

How do you lodge a dispute?

“When submitting a dispute, it’s important to provide the credit bureau with as much supporting documentation as possible to prove that the disputed information on your credit report should be removed,” says Viljoen.

A lack of supporting documentation can result in a delay in resolving the issue. Lodging a dispute with the credit bureau that issued the credit report is easy, she adds.

This is the process to follow to submit a dispute:

  • Call or visit the credit bureau you received your credit report from. This can also be done online.
  • You must log your dispute within three months of issue of the credit report. 
  • Complete the challenge form and submit it.
  • Submit all your supporting documentation, including proof of ID and address.
  • Give your credit bureau 20 to 30 working days to complete and investigate your complaint with the credit provider.

TransUnion gives you a free credit report once every 12 months. Justmoney can also help you get one for free when you register here.

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