Housing, employment, and loan decisions are made based on a person’s credit history. If there is a student loan error on your credit report you’ll want to get it fixed. In this article, we’ll give you some guidance on how to fix student loan errors that may appear on your credit report.
Mistakes are made on credit reports. Errors are often linked to similar names, typos, computer systems, identity theft, general human error, and other reasons. Your credit report can affect your future, so it’s important that the information in your credit report is accurate. Housing, employment, and loan decisions are made based on a person’s credit history. If there is a student loan error on your credit report you’ll want to get it fixed. In this article, we’ll give you some guidance on how to fix student loan errors that may appear on your credit report.
Can Student Loans Be Disputed?
Yes, you can dispute your student loan payment history and status. The federal government has steps you can take to dispute certain issues with your student loan account.
For instance, you can dispute the following student loan errors:
Incorrect account balance on your student loan
Loan incorrectly reported as in default
Identity theft, fraud, or error
Incorrect facts used to deny a student loan discharge
Tax and wage garnishment errors
To dispute your student loan account history, you must contact your student loan holder and provide proof of the errors you’re claiming. The federal student aid website has more information on how to dispute your federal student loan. If you have a private student loan, you’ll have to call your loan holder or loan servicing agency to dispute any errors related to your account.
Can You Dispute Student Loans on Your Credit Report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires consumer reporting agencies to report accurate information. It gives you the right to dispute student loan errors on your credit report. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) estimates that one in five consumers has an error on their credit report—credit report errors are not rare.
Common mistakes that appear on credit reports include:
Loans paid in full reported as unpaid
Wrong payment dates
Unreported payments and repayment plans
Incorrect payment amounts
Account balance is wrong
Credit limit is incorrect
Borrower names are wrong due to identity theft, mix-ups, or typos
Social Security number is wrong
Account ownership name is incorrect
Addresses are wrong
Loans are incorrectly reported as in collections
Loans are incorrectly reported as in default
Creditor names and account numbers don’t match
Previous corrections are reversed
Changes and payments go unreported
Multiple credit inquiries that should have been combined
Credit inquiries reported that were never made
Dismissed liens, judgments, and lawsuits mistakenly remain as active
Negative entries remain (excluding bankruptcies) that are over seven years old
As you can see, many different kinds of errors appear on credit reports Recently, errors have occurred because of backlogs related to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2020-2021 coronavirus pandemic brought with it changes to payment requirements on school loans and an increase in credit report errors. Credit bureaus must investigate disputes, but to dispute an error, you must start the investigation and provide proof for your claims. Credit report errors won’t be fixed unless you take action.
How To Dispute Your Student Loan History on Your Credit Report
To dispute errors, you’ll need to first compare information on your credit report to your records. Then you can report the errors to your lender and each major credit bureau.
Get Your Free Credit Report
The first step in disputing student loan errors on your credit report is getting a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. You’ll want to request a credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The easiest way to do this is to go to annualcreditreport.com and request your free copy. This website is the official website approved by the government to get your free credit report.
Normally, you’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each major credit bureau. New regulations due to Covid-19 temporarily allow a free weekly report. You must go through the process separately for each credit bureau. If you don’t have internet access, you can call (877) 322-8228 to get your free credit report.
Review Your Payment History and Gather Documents for Proof
Once you have your free credit report, look for errors. Compare the information on the credit report to your payment history. You can also review your receipts and bank statements, as well as the list of common credit report errors noted above.
After finding student loan errors on your credit report, you’ll want to determine who provided you with your loan and who is responsible for collecting on the loan. These companies are referred to as the loan holder or loan servicer. If you have a federal student loan, you can go to the student aid website to find your loan service servicer. For private loans, look at a recent statement or call the bank or loan company directly to gather information about your student loan and payments.
Before you report the error, make sure you have the dates, amounts, names, phone numbers, and addresses of the companies involved. Disputing an error is not always an easy process, and the more information you have the easier it will be. A study by the North Carolina Bank Institute found that nearly half the people that requested a credit report were not able to easily resolve their dispute. Expect challenges, and plow through them.
Prepare to correct disputed student loan errors with your loan provider and with the credit bureaus.
Have the following information ready to report in your dispute:
Your name and address
The account number of the disputed student loan
The student loan holder (where the loan originated)
The student loan servicer (the company taking payments)
The type of information about your student loan that is disputed
A short explanation of the disputed information
Proof of errors
Make sure you have copies of receipts, court orders, bills, proof of disability, and other types of proof to back up your claim.
Compare your information with that of your loan holder and servicer. You’ll have to call or write a letter to your lender to get information about the disputed credit report entry unless your payment history is available online.
Disputing your reported credit history in writing creates a record that is easier to retrieve and keep track of compared to a string of phone calls, so it’s best to write a letter outlining your dispute. If you have a federal student loan, first follow the dispute steps at the studentaid.gov website. If those don’t work, contact the Federal Student Aid (FSA) Ombudsman Group of the U.S. Department of Education.
The three major credit bureaus have an online dispute resolution process. They have 30 days to resolve the issue or remove it from your report according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). After a dispute investigation is complete, the agencies have five days to send you the investigation results.
Can You Dispute Student Loans After 7 Years?
If there’s an error on your credit report about a student loan that is over seven years old, you can dispute the error following the above steps. If your taxes are being garnished (a “Treasury Offset”) because of your student debt, you can request a review with the Department of Treasury to dispute the amount. If you received a notice your wages are being garnished for a student loan, you can take steps to reduce or dispute the amount being garnished for your student loan.
Can I Get Student Loans Removed From My Credit Report?
The length of time a student loan remains on your credit report will depend on the type of loan and your payment history. But even when your student loan debt is no longer reported on your credit report, you’ll still owe the debt.
Private student loans are treated differently than federal student loans. Unpaid private student loans should be removed from your credit report after seven years. A private student loan lender is treated differently than a federal student loan. A dispute can be made as it would with any other creditor.
Certain federal student loans, such as a Perkins student loan, could stay on your credit report until it’s paid. If you’ve paid your student loan and it’s still showing on your credit report, you should start the above dispute process to protect your credit.
Federal student loans follow you through retirement age. Even Social Security benefits can be garnished for failure to repay. Federal loan actions are guided by the Higher Education Act of 1962 (HEA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Many factors go into deciding whether a federal student loan can be removed from your credit history. Credit bureaus are required to report accurate information, so they will keep reporting the new information and your old loan could pop up under a new account.
Let’s Summarize. . .
It’s tough to take the time to manage student loan disputes on your credit report, but the work could ultimately result in a positive payoff. Incorrect information will lower your credit score and hurt your chances for future loans and credit cards. Fixing the error could improve your credit score and your chances to improve your finances, education, and quality of life. Good credit opens the door to opportunity. Investing time to dispute errors and to make things right is time well spent.