There is a company that believes I owe them money. I disagree, and they've hired a debt collector. I know how about my rights per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and in particular that I should contact the collector in writing within 30 days to dispute the debt. As far as I can tell, though, the debt collector can still report the item to the credit reporting agencies, and the best I would be able to do in that case is to get those agencies to mark the item as "disputed." (The FDCPA doesn't mention this topic, the Fair Credit Reporting Act is vague on the matter, and I haven't found anything directly relevant elsewhere on the internet.)
How I would expect it to work is that, if I tell the debt collector in writing that I don't owe anything, it shouldn't affect my credit report unless a court rules for the creditor. That doesn't seem to be the case, however, as best as I can tell. Am I missing anything?
It is probably relevant that I have actually had a business relationship with the original creditor, and that the claim isn't unfounded; it's just wrong (in my assessment). As such, it doesn't seem like credit reporting agencies would remove a hypothetical entry on the topic as "inaccurate": I wouldn't expect them to adjudicate the matter in detail the way a court would.