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How to Dispute Student Loans on a Credit Report

Janine DeVault

Nov 11, 2021 8 min read

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Steps to dispute student loan errors on your credit report.
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    Inaccurate student loan data on your credit report can negatively affect your credit score and make it more difficult for you to secure financing in the future. It’s crucial to review your credit report frequently so you can spot mistakes and dispute them before they damage your credit score significantly. 

    To ensure that your student loan accounts are reported accurately, you should pull your credit reports from Canada’s credit bureaus: TransUnion and Equifax. You can use Borrowell to download your Equifax credit report for free. Review each document carefully to verify that the details around your student loans have been reported accurately and are consistent with both credit bureaus.

    Don't know where to find your credit report?

    You can sign up for Borrowell in under 3 minutes and download your equifax credit report for free. Sign up and quickly get your credit report to spot any errors.

    Get your Credit Report

    If you spot any errors in how your student loan is being reported, write a letter to both your lender and the credit bureau(s) that indicates where you encountered the error. Each credit bureau has a different protocol for filing disputes. You can find the full instructions on how to dispute your credit report with Equifax and TransUnion here. 

    In your dispute, detail the mistake and include any supporting documentation you can find to support your claim. This will make it easier for your lender and the credit bureaus to verify the legitimacy of the error. 

    Once you’ve sent your letter, you’ll have to wait for the credit bureaus to investigate your report and make the necessary corrections. Your dispute could take anywhere from 5 to 30 days to process, so the sooner you catch and dispute an error, the better. Once the investigation is complete, the credit bureaus will notify you of the outcome. Assuming your claim was legitimate, the credit bureau will work with the lender to make corrections, and you should see them reflected on your credit report soon after. 

    While the process of reporting errors is relatively straightforward, identifying them can be a challenge. Below, we’ll discuss some of the most common student loan errors that could appear on your credit report and outline how they could affect your credit score.

    Do Student Loans Affect Credit Score?

    Student loans can impact your credit both positively and negatively. For many individuals, student loans are the first loan they take out, and they can be a fantastic way to start building credit history at 18. If you manage your student loans responsibly and make your payments on time, they can help you create a strong credit profile, making it easier to qualify for other types of loans and credit products in the future.  

    However, if you miss payments or let your account default by failing to make payments for many months, your student loan could damage your credit history significantly. 

    How Long Do Student Loans Remain on Your Credit Report?

    Student loan payment history will remain on your credit report for up to 10 years. Negative marks, including undisputed errors, will stay on your credit report for at least seven years. With this in mind, it’s essential to review your credit report regularly to identify any inaccuracies and have them removed. 

    Positive data remains on your credit report for ten years, which is an extra incentive to keep on top of your payments! 

    What Are Some of the Most Common Student Loan Errors on Credit Reports?

    While you can’t dispute accurate data on your credit report (even if it’s unfavourable), you can remedy errors that appear on your credit report. There are all kinds of different reporting errors that can occur with regard to student loans, so it’s up to you to ensure everything is in order and fix any discrepancies.

    Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes you may need to correct. 

    Student loans not showing on your credit report

    If your student loan account isn’t displayed on your credit report, there has likely been a miscommunication between your lender and the credit bureau. If you’ve been making your payments on time, you deserve to reap the benefits of having this positive data shown in your credit history. Contact your lender to request that they report your account to the credit bureaus.

    Student loans double-listed on your credit report

    In some instances, a lender may mistakenly report duplicate information for the same student loan account. In this instance, it will appear as if you have more credit accounts than you actually do. Even if your account (and its duplicate) are in good standing, the duplicate information can affect your credit score negatively by making it appear as though you have twice as much debt. Having numerous open accounts could also affect your ability to be approved for future loans, as lenders may question your ability to stay on top of your payments. 

    Someone else’s student loans on your credit report

    If you spot student loans on your account that you don’t recognize, do some digging. Whether due to clerical error or as a result of identity theft, a loan that is not yours could find its way onto your credit report. If you see any accounts you don’t recognize on your credit report, contact the lender immediately to resolve the issue. 

    Incorrect information on your student loan account

    Reporting delays and clerical errors could result in inaccurate information concerning your student loan account. There are a few different types of inaccuracies to keep an eye out for on your credit report:

    • The balance owed is different from the balance displayed on your lender’s account

    • An account you’ve paid in full is still listed as active

    • The dates you opened or closed your student loan account are incorrect

    • The dates you made payments to your student loan are incorrect

    Your account is incorrectly marked as delinquent or in default

    Having an account marked delinquent, or default can harm your credit severely and affect your ability to qualify for future loans. Sometimes, a payment made on time may be falsely marked late. Review your credit report regularly to spot these errors and always keep documentation of every payment you make to ensure you can prove on-time payment should it be necessary. 

    Other times, a student loan account may be marked delinquent or in default even if you’ve been approved for deferment or forbearance. If you’ve qualified for deferral or forbearance, keep an eye on your credit report in the months that follow to ensure your account is reported accurately. If you spot errors, send proof of your deferment or forbearance to your lender and request that they correct the mistake. 

    How Long Does it Take For a Student Loan Dispute to be Removed From Your Credit Report?

    When you dispute an item, it typically takes about 30 days for the credit bureau to investigate the issue. Equifax specifically states that their disputes are processed within 5 to 20 business days. If they deem your dispute valid, they will remove the error from your credit report and notify you. You should then see the changes reflected on your credit report within another 30 days. 

    To help accelerate the investigation of your dispute, provide thorough documentation to support your claim. Depending on the nature of the error, this could mean providing proof of on-time payment by way of bank statements, signed copies of your student loan agreement that clearly state the date you opened the account, or any other document you can think of that may help.  

    Will My Credit Score Improve After a Student Loan Inaccuracy is Removed?

    Removing incorrect items from your credit report can help you improve your credit score. Whether there was an erroneous negative mark, a failure to report an account in good standing, or a duplicate account listed, you should see a boost in your score once the mistake is fixed. 

    Ways to Spot Credit Report Errors and Improve Your Credit Score

    Correcting errors on your credit report can help you give your score a boost while ensuring you are rewarded for keeping your accounts in good standing. Whether you’re just beginning to build credit or working hard to improve your score, monitoring your credit report should be part of your strategy.

    Make a monthly habit of reviewing your credit report so you can spot and correct mistakes as soon as possible. You should compare your credit report across all credit bureaus to ensure the information is consistent. This way, you don’t risk having inaccurate data wreak havoc on your credit score. 

    In addition to regular credit monitoring, you can do several other things to improve your credit score.

    • Pay your bills on time: Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, so don’t miss paying a bill. Ever.

    • Keep credit utilization low: A low credit utilization rate helps lenders see that you’re capable of managing your money responsibly. Raise your credit limits whenever you can, and always pay down your balances swiftly. Ideally, you’ll never use more than 30% of your available credit.

    • Diversify your credit mix: Lenders like to see that you can manage multiple types of credit products. This is known as your credit mix. A student loan and a credit card are good places to start, but it may make sense to add in a car loan or a mortgage over time.

    • Keep your oldest credit card open: The length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your credit score. Always keep your oldest credit card open, even if you only use it sporadically. Cancelling a credit card can actually hurt your credit score.

    • Try a secured credit card: If you’re only beginning to build credit history or rebuild credit, a secured credit card is a fantastic way to do so. When you open a secured credit card, you back it with your own cash, but your account history is reported to credit bureaus. Your credit score will increase as long as you make on-time payments.

    A student loan is a powerful first step toward building a diverse credit portfolio. Follow the tips discussed above to keep your student loan account in good standing, and your credit report error-free so you can continue to increase your credit score and qualify for additional credit products down the road. 

    Don't know where to find your credit report?

    You can sign up for Borrowell in under 3 minutes and download your equifax credit report for free. Sign up and quickly get your credit report to spot any errors.

    Get your Credit Report

    Janine DeVault
    Janine DeVault

    Janine is a writer who focuses on topics such as credit education, money management, and renting best practices for tenants and landlords. Janine loves to travel and has lived in Canada, the US, and Mexico.

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