You’re dealing with rising credit reporting disputes volumes, increased regulatory scrutiny and consumers who are tuned into credit reports and how to dispute them. Much like preparing for a storm by boarding windows, buying water and placing sandbags, furnishers are shoring up disputes processes to prepare for increased volumes. It’s all about where to look and which questions to ask.
So, begin your preparation for increased credit reporting disputes by examining what you already have:
Take the time now to understand your current credit reporting dispute handling process, and it will alleviate stress of continuing high volumes. Once you’re armed with this information, you can understand the operational changes needed to improve efficiency for you and your team.
We know from speaking with furnishers that about 85-90% of all credit bureau disputes are indirect, channeled through e-OSCAR®. This leaves the remaining 10-15% to be sent directly from the consumer to their respective furnisher. But what lies beneath those percentages is the critical information—your dispute trending insights. After all, knowledge is power.
Ask these questions to better understand the composition of your dispute volume
Your key reporting indicators should be providing answers to these fundamental questions every month. Assuming you have this information, unpack the story it tells. There are several credit bureau dispute types. Which ones are taking the longest to resolve and why?
How you answered the questions above should help you target a deep dive into your dispute operational structure. For example, a recent CDIA conference poll revealed that managing Credit Repair Organization (CRO) volume is a top pain point for furnishers.
Unsurprisingly, duplicate and repeat disputes holds second place.
When examining your dispute volume types, identify the ones being stressed. That knowledge will help effectively manage dispute volume for the future.
Ask yourself: Do I have a process to scan third-party documents from CROs and move them to a defined queue in a case management system for processing and validation? If your current volume of duplicate disputes is challenging, then consider waiting a few days to aggregate the duplicates and then work them together. This helps with efficiency and it ensures you provide a consistent response to the customer.
Ask these questions to determine your operational structure efficiency and manage dispute volume
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can prioritize gaps in your operations as you prepare for future disputes. At Bridgeforce, we’ve praised the use of dispute case management systems to drive efficiency and combat rising dispute volume. Using a dispute case management system is a clear advantage to help manage dispute volume and your operational dispute handling process.
It is no surprise that strong furnishing accuracy will keep your consumer reporting dispute volume low. But a formal root cause methodology is also an important step. It is essential to find the true root of any problem before addressing areas of opportunity.
Gaining an understanding of the core issue and asking the 5 Whys should be at the forefront of your methodology.
For example, are you consistently flooded with repeat disputes? If so, do a deep dive into your reasonable investigation processes or your direct dispute response letter strategy. Furnishers may choose to use very simple and generic response letters for ease of execution. However, the downside is the customer’s lack of confidence in the thoroughness of the investigation or understanding of the outcome, resulting in resubmission of the dispute. If you are getting a high volume of repeat disputes, are you set up operationally to have a phone outreach strategy to help resolve the dispute with the customer? This can be a big time-saver in the long run while improving the customer experience.
Another problematic root cause area is when an organization lacks discipline to engage their furnishing team when making an operational process change. The furnishing team can identify impacts for reporting purposes.
Furnishers should frequently review upstream operational processes and the respective “trigger events” that could impact content and accuracy of their Metro 2® file.
Internal rigor and connectivity between operations and furnishing can pay huge dividends in reducing future credit bureau dispute volume.
All the activities I’ve shared can significantly help you as furnishers to manage dispute volume efficiently and compliantly. With a good plan and an accurate forecast, you can weather disputes volume at any level.
At Bridgeforce, our consumer reporting framework has helped furnishers find new efficiencies—from data accuracy to compliance to operational oversight.
Contact us to be your next partner in credit reporting and disputes excellence.