Whenever disputing a credit report with a credit reporting agency, consumers should also send a written dispute to the creditor or other furnisher (e.g., a debt collector) of the information. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a furnisher’s investigation obligation arises only when it receives notice of the consumer’s dispute directly from the credit reporting agency (Trans Union, Equifax or Experian). When challenged, furnishers likely will claim that they did not did not receive the required notice from the credit reporting agencies. Consumers should ensure such argument is of little value to the furnisher by sending it the same information the consumer sent to the credit reporting agencies.
The importance of notifying the furnisher of information is premised, in large part, on the nature of the credit industry’s Automated Consumer Dispute Verification (ACDV) system. In essence, disputes sent to the credit reporting agencies are reduced to a one-page, electronic ACDV message, with the underlying dispute reduced to a code. In some instances, the credit reporting agency will add a one-line summary of the agency’s interpretation of the consumer’s dispute (e.g., “Consumer says account is not his.”). That’s it. If you want the furnisher to get a complete picture of the basis for your dispute, you need to make sure it happens and not rely only on the credit reporting agencies to do so.