THE BLOG

How to Handle a Data Dispute

20/02/2014 14:04 GMT | Updated 21/04/2014 10:59 BST

We always actively encourage people to review their credit report. Doing so means you are in a good position to have a complete picture of your credit commitments and can help you present yourself in the best possible light to lenders.

However sometimes you might find something you disagree with on your credit report. If this happens to you, it can be very upsetting.

The information held on your credit report is filed and updated each month by the lenders or utility companies which you have credit services with. Any organisation that shares credit account information through a credit reference agency is responsible for making sure the information shared is accurate and kept up to date and so too should the credit reference agency take reasonable steps to make sure the information is correct too. At Experian we carry out around 350 checks before account data is added to people's reports.

While the major credit agencies work closely with lenders to identify and minimise mistakes, it is still important that you check your report frequently and contact your credit agency if you find any discrepancies.

If you do report a mistake, your credit agency will likely raise a 'data dispute' on your behalf, marking the information as 'unreliable' while it is being investigated. As a result, lenders looking at your report should disregard the information while the dispute is ongoing. Swift action by your credit agency can result in the situation being resolved within a matter of days.

In rare cases, organisations may dispute your claims of inaccuracy and refuse to change the information. If this was to occur, I would suggest you file a 'notice of correction' - a written statement of up to 200 words that you can be included alongside your report.

While mistakes are extremely rare - certainly ones that might affect the outcome of a credit application - we work hard to help people better understand credit referencing.

As credit reports can be confusing, I've put together some simple tips from Experian CreditExpert to help you manage a data dispute should it ever arise.

1. Get a current copy of your Experian Credit Report

If you don't have one you can sign up to CreditExpert or order a one-off £2 statutory report - go to www.experian.co.uk for details.

2. Let us know which entry isn't accurate

Tell us which entry is inaccurate, and what's wrong with it. You can either do this by email, post or using our online query forms. All Experian's contact details can be found here: http://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/contact-us/index.html.

3. We'll contact the organisation that's recorded this information on your report

And we'll ask them to check the accuracy of the data they've recorded. We'll let you know that we're doing this, and we'll add a 'Notice of Dispute' to the entry - so that anyone looking at your report in the meantime will know that the entry is being disputed. We do this because we can't delete or change the data without the lender's permission.

4. We'll let you know the outcome

Once the organisation replies to us we'll be in touch to let you know whether they've said it can be updated, deleted or confirmed that it's correct. It takes eight working days on average for us to receive a response and we'll let you know as soon as we hear from them.

5. Further help

If the organisation / lender responds informing us that they believe the information is accurate and you still disagree, we will explain the next step you can take, including adding a 'notice of correction' (an explanatory statement) to the entry or referring the matter to a third party to arbitrate, for example, the Financial Ombudsman Service or the Information Commissioner's Office.