Under federal law, you are allowed to dispute information that shows up on your credit report both with the company that reported the information and with the reporting bureau that recorded it. There’s no fee for filing a dispute, and the credit reporting bureaus may make changes based on the information that you provide.
This can be great news if your credit report changes in your favor and your credit score gets a boost. However, it is possible that when information on your reports gets changed, your credit score actually takes a hit.
Here’s a closer look at why your credit score may have dropped after a dispute, plus other common reasons your score might drop.
Can a Dispute Hurt Your Credit Score?
When you dispute your credit report, it’s important to understand that the dispute itself does not cause your credit score to drop. In other words, you aren’t punished for questioning the information on your credit report. That said, the information in the dispute could have a negative impact on your score. For example, if the information in your dispute demonstrates that you have a lower credit limit than previously reported, your credit score could take a hit.
Common Reasons for Credit Scores to Drop
As you manage your credit score and work to build credit, there are a number of reasons your credit score may drop. Here’s what to look out for.
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Late or Missed Payment
Your payment history — whether you have a track record of paying off your debts on time — is a big part of how your credit score is calculated. In fact, it makes up 35% of your FICO score, which is calculated by the Fair Isaacs Corporation. Your score will likely fall if you make late payments or if you miss payments entirely.
Derogatory Remark on Your Credit Report
A derogatory mark on your credit report is a negative item that indicates you didn’t pay back a debt according to agreed upon terms with your lender. These marks tend to remain on your report for a long time, anywhere from seven to 10 years. Examples include bankruptcies, missed payments, debts in collection, foreclosures, and repossessions.
Change in Credit Utilization Rate
Your credit utilization rate indicates how much of your available credit you are currently using. You can find it by dividing your available credit by your current debt. The higher your utilization rate, the more debt you are carrying in comparison to the amount of credit you have, which may suggest that you’re overextended. Banks might get worried about your ability to pay off your loans. That’s why the amount you owe makes up 30% of your FICO score, and why a higher utilization rate can hurt your score.
Reduced Credit Limit
Your credit limit has an impact on your credit utilization rate. If your limit is reduced, your utilization rate could increase, hurting your credit score. You can lower your utilization rate by paying off some of your debts.
You can also ask one of your credit card companies to raise your credit limit. They’re usually happy to do it as long as your account is in good standing.
Closed Credit Card
The length of your credit history comprises 15% of your FICO score. When you cancel credit cards — when consolidating credit card debt, for example — you may be reducing your credit history. You could also be reducing your credit mix, which makes up 10% of your FICO score.
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Paid off Loan
Similarly, paying off a loan might have a slight negative effect on your credit score because it can reduce your credit history and credit mix. That said, it could also have a positive effect on your record if it reduced your credit utilization rate.
Multiple Lines of Credit Opened or Applied for
New credit accounts make up 10% of your FICO score. Banks worry that when a person opens several lines of credit in a short period of time, they are at greater risk of defaulting on their loans. As a result, new lines of credit can ding your credit score.
Not only that, but simply applying for new credit can hurt your score. When you apply for a credit card or loan, your lender will make what is known as a “hard inquiry” to view your credit report. Lenders may see those seeking new credit as more risky, so hard inquiries can also have a negative effect.
Checking your own credit doesn’t lower your score. A credit check that doesn’t hurt your record is considered a “soft inquiry.”
Mistake on Your Credit Report
Mistakes on your credit report can lead to a lower score. That’s why it’s important that you monitor your credit report regularly and report errors to the credit reporting bureaus as soon as possible. You can request a free credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian — once a year.
Monitoring your credit report is also a good way to catch fraudulent behavior. If you’ve been subject to identity theft, bad actors may have used your personal information to open fraudulent accounts, which could have a negative effect on your credit score. Report these accounts immediately.
Types of Credit Report Errors to Look out for
When reviewing your credit report, look out for the following errors:
• Personal information errors. Check your name, phone number, address, etc.
• Accounts that belong to another person with the same name.
• Fraudulent accounts that you didn’t open.
• Account status errors. Check for closed accounts that are reported as still open, accounts incorrectly reported as late or delinquent, incorrect payment information, and the same debt listed more than once.
• Balance and credit limit information that is inaccurate or out of date.
Correcting Errors on Your Credit Report
If you spot a mistake on your credit report, you can file a dispute with the credit reporting bureau. The mistake may be on your credit report with each bureau, so you may need to file a separate dispute with each.
You’ll need to file your dispute in writing and using the credit reporting bureau’s dispute form if they have one. Include documents that support your dispute, and be sure to keep a record of what you send.
Disputing information on your credit report can be an important part of ensuring that your credit score is as accurate as possible. You won’t be penalized for filing a dispute, though in certain circumstances, it is possible that your credit score will drop if information in your dispute has a negative impact on your credit.
To maintain a healthy credit score, carefully keep track of your finances and be sure to always make payments on time. With SoFi Relay, you can get free credit score monitoring, spending breakdowns, and financial insights to help keep you on track.
Why Did My Credit Score Go Down for No Reason?
Your credit score likely didn’t go down for no reason at all. It’s possible that a creditor reported new information to the credit reporting bureaus that had a negative impact on your credit report. Or there could be a mistake on your credit report. Regularly monitoring your credit report can help you catch errors.
Why Did My Credit Score Drop After Filing a Dispute?
Your credit score may have dropped after you filed a dispute if information in that dispute had a negative impact on your score. You are not penalized for filing the dispute itself.
Does Losing a Dispute Hurt Your Credit?
Losing a dispute does not necessarily hurt your credit, but it may leave it unchanged if the information you were hoping would boost your score is rejected.
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