What many credit repairers don’t want you to know…There’s a wrong way to dispute your bill. The wrong way can lead to bad credit history – leaving you unable to obtain credit for 5 to 7 years. Here is how you should dispute your telephone, internet, energy or basically any bill which you disagree with before it ruins your credit file.

By Graham Doessel, CEO and founder of MyCRA Credit Repairs and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.

Customers who refuse to pay a bill because they believe it has errors are making a grave mistake that could harm their ability to get credit in the future.

One of the most common mistakes people make which leads to bad credit history is not paying a disputed bill by the due date.

Creditors make mistakes with billing all the time, otherwise however infallible they may like to think their system is, otherwise there would be no need for professional credit repair.

It can be really difficult getting the matter resolved with some creditors. But no news is definitely not good news.

Where many customers go wrong, is assuming just because they have spoken to someone on the phone about the bill, they are no longer obliged to pay it by the due date.

Under current credit reporting legislation, an account which is more than 60 days late can be listed by the creditor as ‘unpaid’ on the customer’s credit file. This is regardless of whether the customer believes there are errors in the details of the bill or with the payment amount.

Many clients dispute the offending bill with the company and made the mistake of leaving the bill unpaid well past the due date while waiting for correspondence from the company. Many are not aware they have incurred a default anyway, until they apply for credit in a different circumstance.

These defaults remain on a person’s credit file for 5 years. Under current legislation, defaults generally don’t get removed from a credit file, but can be marked as paid if they have been paid.

Currently, defaults – even those that are marked as ‘paid’, will prevent you from obtaining a home loan with most lenders. In fact, even having a few too many credit enquiries can be enough for an automatic decline.

So it’s really important we don’t leave ourselves open to having a default listing slapped on our credit file, ruining our good name.

Here is the process people should take when disputing a bill in Australia:

1. Contact the bill provider as soon as you receive the bill and attempt to resolve the discrepancy.

2. Make a note of the date of all conversations, the name of each person you speak to and the nature of the discussion with each. Note any resolutions that were reached and ask that those be emailed or sent to you in writing.

3. If the credit provider fails to honour the discrepancy, advise them you will be contacting the appropriate ombudsman.

4. If the due date for the bill approaches and the issue has not been resolved, pay the bill by the due date. You can always seek reimbursement at a later date, but this will prevent a default for that bill being listed on your credit file.

5. If there is still no resolution, take the matter further, usually with the appropriate Ombudsman.

So don’t assume anything or take someone’s word for it, get it in writing and preserve your clear credit file.

If you already have bad credit history from a bill dispute that went wrong – it may not be all lost. The best way to fix your credit score is to seek professional credit repair.

Australian credit reporting legislation allows for you to resolve any inconsistencies on your credit report. But the problem with attempting to dispute errors on your credit file with creditors yourself is two-fold. Without knowledge of the legislation, people almost invariably get caught in legal ‘loop-holes’ which see the default, writ or Judgment left on the credit file, or at best see the listing marked as ‘paid’.

Both of these results DO NOT fix your credit rating because lenders still consider even a ‘paid’ listing as bad credit history. Secondly, by negotiating with creditors, people can also accidentally ‘alert’ creditors to any mistakes the creditor may have made in the initial method of credit reporting – allowing them to fix up their mistakes and negate the need to remove the credit file default which was placed in error.

Good professional credit repair gives you the best chance at fixing your credit.  A credit repairer can help you get a free copy of your credit file, and go through the bad credit history with you. They can then use their knowledge of credit reporting legislation to see where any errors in credit reporting were made, and help to enforce the legislation that creditors are bound to comply with.

If they are successful, you not only get help with removing errors from your credit file, but many times you are able to start off with a completely clean credit rating.