In credit repair, the credit dispute process involves the use of two systems called Metro 2 and e-OSCAR. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, as is likely the case for most consumers, then keep reading this article. Credit expert John Ulzheimer takes us behind the scenes of the consumer dispute process and explains the importance of the Metro 2 and e-OSCAR systems in consumer credit disputes.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal statute that confers rights to consumers with regard to their personal credit reports.
One of these rights you have under the FCRA is the right to challenge information on your credit report that you believe to be inaccurate.
The information on your credit reports is provided by data furnishers, such as your lenders, to the three major credit reporting agencies (CRAs): Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), there are approximately 16,000 of these data furnishers in the United States.
Here are some examples of data furnishers that may report information about your credit accounts to the credit bureaus every month:
One way to dispute something on your credit report is to file a dispute with the CRAs. This method is called an indirect dispute because rather than taking your dispute directly to the furnisher itself, you are asking the credit bureau to investigate the claim on your behalf.
The credit bureau is then obligated to conduct a “reasonable investigation” into your dispute, which typically includes contacting the furnishing party and asking them if there is any validity to your credit dispute.
To understand how indirect disputes work, we first need to define Metro 2 and e-OSCAR. Then, we can take a look at each step in the procedure and see how Metro 2 and e-OSCAR play important roles in the dispute process.
Metro 2 is the “language” used by data furnishers to communicate information to the credit bureaus. It is the standard (and only) language used for this purpose. The previous version of this language, Metro 1, is outdated and is no longer used.
The Metro 2 language consists of alpha, numeric, and alphanumeric characters. These characters go into different fields on your credit report which indicate certain things.
Metro 2 is communicated through the Consumer Data Industry Associate (CDIA) using a manual called the Credit Reporting Resource Guide (CRRG).
When the data furnishers receive dispute forms from the credit bureaus, the information on those forms is encoded in the Metro 2 language.
e-OSCAR is a communication protocol analogous to a phone line between the credit bureaus and the companies that furnish data to them. It is used to transmit information such as dispute forms back and forth between the credit bureaus and data furnishers.
Like Metro 2, e-OSCAR is universal, meaning it is the only communication method used in the dispute process and therefore it is used by all three credit bureaus.
You can read more about the forms used in the credit dispute process in another article.
As a consumer, you do not have to pay to dispute information on your credit report or to have that information corrected. The right to be able to dispute items for free is mandated by the FCRA.
This includes the updated credit report that the credit bureau sends to you once their investigation is complete.
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