If I dispute a debt, how does that show up on my credit report?
If you contact a credit bureau and dispute the validity of a debt, the credit reporting company will put a note on the account that it is in dispute and then investigate your dispute.
Disputed debt appears on credit reports. However, a credit bureau generally will not use it to calculate credit scores until the investigation is completed. For this reason, some lenders may not extend credit during the investigation period. If the investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute, you can still have the dispute noted on your credit report by submitting a statement describing your dispute, but the debt will be used for credit scoring and lenders may consider it along with your statement.
If you feel strongly that the debt is not owed, you may have to take legal action to have the debt removed from your credit report and seek damages against anyone that wrongfully reported it. Although the CFPB cannot endorse any individual attorneys or firms, there are attorneys that focus on handling cases for consumers. Search or see How do I find a lawyer to help me with a creditor or collector trying to collect a debt from me?
If you're having trouble with credit reports and scores, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB.