Does disputing a charge hurt your credit?

Woman pays for groceries with her credit card.Image: Woman pays for groceries with her credit card.

In a Nutshell

Disputing a charge on your credit does not directly impact your credit score. However, if your credit report changes due to the dispute, your score may change accordingly. For example, resolving an inaccurate credit utilization error might increase your score.
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The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows us to challenge information on our credit reports. Disputing an error on credit reports is free and normally takes less than a month. But can disputing a charge can hurt your credit?

When can I dispute a credit report?

Generally, you can dispute any inaccuracies in your credit report. This includes incorrect credit card charges, credit charges you did not authorize or other billing errors. In some cases, you may be able to dispute a charge for items you purchased but never received or did not find satisfactory.

Since inaccuracies on your credit report could hurt your credit score, it’s a good idea to open a dispute if you think you have been a fraud victim or notice any errors. Non-resolved issues could affect your credit health.

Does disputing a charge hurt your credit?

Disputing a credit card charge does not hurt your credit. However, if the information on your credit report changes because of the dispute, your score may change accordingly.

Credit agencies can also note the dispute by placing the “XB” code on your account, which simply means the dispute is under investigation. This will not impact your credit.  

Will it hurt my credit if I don’t pay the bill I am disputing?

While your dispute is ongoing, the credit issuer can’t report your account as delinquent if you’ve paid any minimums and kept up on your undisputed bills. If you aren’t sure if you have any minimum payments due, you can call your credit card issuer.

10 entries on a credit report that may decrease your score

While disputing an inaccuracy on your credit report will not lower your score, it’s possible that not disputing it could do just that. Credit scores consider your credit history, which includes things like making payments on time, your credit utilization rate (how much of your limit you’ve used), opened accounts and more.

So, if fraudulent charges on your account impact any of these factors, your score may suffer.

Here are 10 entries on a credit report that may decrease your score, so be on the lookout for them when you check your credit report.

  1. Fraudulent items on your report, like a new credit card or loan account that you did not open or apply for.
  2. Accounts that belong to someone with the same or similar name as you or other mixed information for yourself and another person.
  3. Closed accounts that show as open.
  4. Accounts that show you as the owner when you’re only an authorized user.
  5. Incorrect late or delinquent flags on your account.
  6. Incorrect payment, account opening or first delinquency dates.
  7. Duplicate information, such as duplicate debts.
  8. Accounts with balance amounts that aren’t correct, such as a debt balance that you have already settled.
  9. Accounts with credit limits that aren’t correct.
  10. Accounts listed multiple times with multiple incorrect creditors.  

How to dispute an entry on your credit report

Follow these steps to dispute an inaccuracy on your credit report:

Step 1: Obtain a recent copy of your credit report

Collecting relevant documents is the first step in disputing an error on your credit report. When you contact your credit issuer or lender, you’ll want any documents supporting your case. This includes a copy of the accuracy you see on your credit report, receipts or other applicable documents. 

Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three main credit reporting agencies, which you can access through

Once you have your credit report in front of you, note any items on the report that are inaccurate or with which you disagree.

Step 2: File a report with the credit bureau

Each major credit reporting bureau — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — has dispute forms on their website, which you can fill out.

If the error appears across the credit bureaus’ reports, file a separate report for each. Each credit dispute process varies slightly, but you’ll need to include the dispute form with an explanation of the error(s) and a copy of your report with the same error(s) notated.

You can also find detailed information on how to contact each major credit bureau.

Step 3: Report the error to the furnisher

After beginning a dispute with the necessary credit bureau, it’s also a good idea to go directly to the source — the lender, bank, credit card company or collection agency that misreported information. Do this in writing and let them know you are starting a dispute.

Remember to send all documents by certified mail and ask for a return receipt so you can have a record of your proceedings.

What happens after the dispute?

Once you’ve filed your dispute, the credit bureau will have 30 days to investigate your claims. If they find your claim unsubstantiated, they will close the investigation and notify you of their reasons.

The credit bureau will contact the company responsible for the alleged inaccuracy as part of the investigation. The company must then investigate your claim as well. If the company finds it misreported information, it must communicate this to the three credit bureaus so they can correct your credit.

After the credit bureaus complete their investigation, they must notify you of the results in writing. If your credit report changes because of the dispute, they must also send you a free, updated credit report.

Tip: If your report changed because of the dispute, you could also request the bureau notify anyone who requested your credit report in the last six months — or two years if the report was obtained for employment.

What’s next: Protect your credit score

Does disputing a charge hurt your credit score? No, but resolving the inaccuracy could have positive effects, so it’s important to take precautionary measures that can alert you to possible fraudulent activity.