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Getting a Response

Don't be discouraged if you find the bureaus stalling or you receive multiple rejections. Restoring your own credit is not easy. The credit bureau is a bureaucracy. As such, don't expect it to behave like an individual. There is no one single person handling your case. If you send the bureau an angry letter in response to the bureau's rejection or stall, the employee who receives it will have no idea why you are fuming. You are better off simply resubmitting your dispute.

There are a variety of possible responses you can expect from the credit bureaus. Each case requires a different response. Below we discuss the more common ones and offer suggestions on how you can respond to them.

No response. If you have not heard back from the bureau within 52 days, it is safe to assume your letter was ignored. There isn't much you can do except draft another dispute, this time a little more threatening. Your follow up letter should mention that your first letter was ignored. Include the certified mail number for the original dispute letter.

A stall letter demanding more information. This is the typical response to expect if you submitted a dispute claiming that someone else's appears on your report. Draft a new dispute letter essentially repeating the first one, but do not state your claim again. Include the information requested by the credit bureau. You can use the opportunity to remind the bureau that this information was included in your original dispute letter. This letter can stand to be more threatening.

A rejection based on the timing of the dispute. We mentioned earlier that you should space your dispute letters 90 days apart. If you don't you will get a rejection letter. The credit bureau may also try to brush you off if they feel that you have sent in too many dispute letters on the whole. Respond by becoming more demanding. After all, had they fulfilled their obligations the first time around you would not have to dispute the listing again. Draft another dispute much like the first, and insist on immediate action.

A rejection stating the dispute is "frivolous or irrelevant." This response is certain to infuriate anyone. If this is their response to your dispute, they probably suspect that you are working with a credit repair company. Or they think you will not counter their rejection. Either way, you must draft another dispute, more insistent and threatening than the first, and include additional information to substantiate your claim.

A rejection on the grounds that you are manipulating the system. As above, this type of rejection implies that the bureau suspects you of working with a credit repair company, or that you are unduly barraging them with disputes. Remind them in your follow-up letter that it is their responsibility to conduct an investigation, not to reject you. After all, you are only asking them to correct mistakes on your credit report.

A letter confirming an investigation has begun. Trans Union uses this response as a way of extending their 30-day investigation period. You have no choice but to accept their timetable. File the letter and watch closely for their response. If you receive nothing by the date indicated on their letter, follow the same suggestions as you would for No response above.

A letter stating your dispute has been forwarded to the appropriate credit bureau. Sometimes a local credit bureau is involved in your dispute. In that case the main credit bureau will forward your dispute to your local bureau for verification. Count on an additional two-week delay when this occurs.

A new credit report showing the results of an investigation. This is what you are after. When you receive your new report, make a copy immediately and review all the items listed. Double-check for deletions and/or changes in your report as per your original dispute letter. The next section describes how to do this effectively.