For many consumers the decision to tackle bad credit does not come easy. It’s a lot of work, especially when you have many negative items. You may be tempted to simply “dispute all negative items to see what gets deleted.” This strategy is better known as “blanket disputes.” But it can end up backfiring — thus, slowing down your rebuilding process.
Blanket disputes have been recommended over the years as a credit repair strategy. But there are several problems with disputing everything contained in your credit report, without regard to what you believe is inaccurate.
Here are the top issues with blanket disputes.
1. The FCRA says you can dispute any inaccurate item on your credit reports. By disputing an inaccuracy it is implied that there is a specific error to be investigated. Disputing on the basis of something like “account not mine” is not an inaccuracy if the account really belongs to you.
2. When an item is disputed, adequate documentation to support the dispute should be provided to the credit bureaus or the creditor in order to conduct a reasonable investigation. Investigations are conducted without documentation but items with supporting documentation give your dispute more weight.
3. Using a blanket dispute in hopes of a creditor not responding to the credit bureau within 30 days could backfire. Blanket disputes may work initially but there’s always a chance the deleted item is reinserted by the creditor. Credit bureaus must delete a negative item if they haven’t heard from the creditor within 30 days. However, if the creditor reports after the 30 days and verifies the negative item as accurate, the credit bureau will often reinsert the negative listing on the credit report.
4. Disputing an older negative item can end up costing your credit score even more. The older negative credit gets, the less if negatively impacts your credit scores. Once you dispute an item and it is verified as being accurate by the creditor, the “Date Last Reported” or “Date of Last Activity” can be updated. While this does not extend how long a negative can remain on your credit reports, it does have the consequence of causing an older negative item look newer. For example, it may have been 2013 since a creditor reported any activity from a negative account but once you register a dispute and the credit bureaus contact the creditor to verify the dispute, the “date of last activity” can be updated to the current date.
5. The biggest issue with blanket disputes is when the credit bureaus flag your disputes as frivolous. The credit bureaus can ignore disputes if they have reason to believe that the dispute is “frivolous.” An example the Federal Trade Commission uses as a frivolous dispute is when the consumer challenges all negative items (blanket dispute) on his credit report without providing any allegations regarding specific items in the credit file. Once a credit dispute is flagged as frivolous, the credit bureau is not required to investigate.