How To Dispute An Experian (or Equifax/Trans Union) Credit Report Error
Remember to Use Our Dispute Template for Experian Below!
Whether you're looking for the lowest possible rate on a mortgage or you're trying to qualify for a premium credit card, a credit report that indicates negative marks against you or fraudulent accounts can sink your chances for receiving all types of credit.
You may even lose the ability to rent an apartment if the error in question damages your credit score sufficiently.
Why? The reality is that landlords, auto finance companies, banks, and credit unions have only a few variables on which they can base an analysis of your ability to repay them. They can't consider your demographic attributes.
They don't have the manpower to hunt down your long-lost acquaintances, former colleagues, family members, and so forth - and even if the banks and other financial institutions did have the manpower, these references don't necessarily give information about your financial situation.
That's why any company or individual who needs to validate your financial situation will consider the information they receive about your credit history. A credit report with errors, fraudulent activity, and other problems could very well limit your ability to qualify for jobs, homes, and much-needed financing for a variety of activities, including healthcare.
Understanding How Credit Works
Before we dive into how to dispute a credit report error on your Experian report, let's first understand some of the terminology and players in this game of disputes.
A lender or creditor is a business which has extended you credit for the purpose of helping you make a purchase when you lack the necessary cash to pay for the purchase up-front.
These creditors will report the status of your loan to companies known as "credit agencies." These reporting firms are also known as credit bureaus -- such as Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union.
If you become delinquent on a loan - that is, you fail to make payments in a timely manner as stipulated in the original credit agreement - the creditor may decide to report the negative status of the loan to a credit bureau.
Should the creditor report a negative mark on your credit report, your credit score (though there are many different types of scoring systems, we will assume there is merely one for the purpose of this article) will decline.
A low credit score will make it impossible for you to carry out common financial activities like applying for credit cards, mortgages, and car loans.
You know...the things you need and want. So, let's get deep into how to dispute your Experian credit report.
Errors & Fraudulent Activity On Your Experian Statement
But, there is another scenario you should be aware of. If a criminal is able to open a fraudulent credit account with your personal information, there is a 100% chance the criminal will become delinquent on the loan being reported to Experian.
This hurts your credit score with Experian. From the credit bureau's perspective, you bear the responsibility for the fraudulent activity until you prove otherwise.
This "guilty until proven innocent" approach to reporting places the burden of monitoring on you, the consumer.
While this state of affairs is not fair, it's up to you to do your research. Let's learn about how you can identify errors on your Experian credit report and how you can fix the problems you find by disputing directly to the CRAs such as Experian.
Headline 2: How To Pull Your Credit Reports From Experian (And The Rest Of The Credit Agencies)
It's a fool-proof system, as you can see.
Sarcasm aside, here's how you can pull your credit report from Experian in order to dispute the error.
Before you follow these steps, you should be aware that annualcreditreport.com is the official, government-mandated website where you can request your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus for free.
1. Navigate to annualcreditreport.com and click on the button labeled "Request your free credit reports."
2. The site will prompt you to answer questions about your identity. Some of these identity questions may include information about previous addresses you've lived at, loan information, and other personally-identifying information in order to validate that you are who you say you are.
3. You will then have the option to view the credit reports from each agency in sequence. Make sure you review each report for errors and fraudulent activity.
Things To Look For On Your Free Experian Credit Report
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the official U.S. federal government agency charged with protecting clients of financial institutions, has some sound advice for citizens who want to closely examine their credit reports.
The CFPB categorizes errors on credit reports with Experian as follows:
1. Identity Errors: A creditor may have reported your information incorrectly to the credit agency. For example, they may have misspelled your name, given an incorrect address, or failed to properly indicate your phone number.
These types of errors are less damaging, but there is a type of identity error which can be more malignant: accounts that belong to another person have been reported as your accounts. This type of error could happen if someone shares a similar name or other information. Lastly, fraudulent accounts could fall under this category.
2. Incorrect Account Status Reporting by Experian: The types of errors that can fall under this credit error category include closed accounts reported with a status of "open," incorrect ownership versus authorized user status, incorrect payment, opening, or first delinquency dates, and duplicate debts or accounts. All of these errors can negatively impact your credit score and should be disputed as soon as possible.
3. Data Management Problems by Experian: A particularly annoying type of error that could appear on your Experian credit report is the class known as "data management" issues as described by the CFPB. One possibility is that a creditor inserts incorrect information even after you correct it, or an account that appears multiple times from different creditors. T
ypically, the latter issue results from the sale of the debt to companies called collections agencies. By the way, a collections agency is a firm which purchases your debt from the original creditor (usually at a dirt-cheap price) and then comes after you for the money. Such an agency may also attempt to sue you in court.
4. Balance Problems: The fourth and final category of error as described by the CFPB is known as "balance problems." Simply put, these types of errors are either an incorrect current balance or an incorrect credit limit. Either type of error can put a serious dent in your credit score.
Now that you understand the the different types of credit report errors, you're ready to analyze your free statement from Experian via annualcreditreport.com. Next up, we will learn how to send your dispute to Experian and clean up any errors you have encountered.
Where To Send Your Dispute
You SHOULD ALWAYS mail your dispute to Experian to be able to PROVE they received it (they will claim they didn't).
Mail your dispute to Experian at the following address:
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013
There are many template dispute letters on the web.
BUT, WE HAVE A SPECIAL TEMPLATE THAT YOU MAY WANT TO USE BELOW.
Submitting your dispute request online is the wrong way to do it.
Disputing An Experian Credit Report Error Online Is the WRONG WAY
To dispute an Experian credit report error online, follow these steps:
1. Goto www.experian.com/acrdispute.
2. Submit your personal information as well as the disputed record in question.
3. Wait for Experian to respond to your request.
Other Ways To Monitor Your Credit On An Ongoing Basis
CreditKarma.com is another great free service for keeping tabs on your credit score. However, not all credit agencies have a relationship with CreditKarma, so you will want to continue to use AnnualCreditReport.com as your primary monitoring service on an annual basis.
What does it mean to wait for the status dispute for Experian? After a dispute Experian will mail you the results and tell you your status.
This is huge!
This will tell you if your problem is fixed or if you will need to take the next step: contacting a credit attorney against Experian to sue them for violating the FCRA.
Tying Up Loose Ends
There are a few other loose ends we need to tie up before we turn you loose on your own Experian credit report.
First, you need to know what to do if Experian decides that your dispute isn't valid. Here are the steps you can take next if you want to see a different resolution for your dispute:
- [Bullet] You can try contacting the company that originally reported your debt and dispute it directly. For written verification about your account, contact the original creditor.
- If you failed to provide all the necessary information initially, try re-submitting your dispute request with the required information. This could include personal information or details about the financial agreement you had with the creditor.
- You can try adding a short statement to your credit report pertaining to the dispute.
- As a final option, you can file a complaint about Experian or the original creditor with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and/or your Attorney General's office of your state.
- Lastly, you should consider freezing your credit with each of the agencies, including Experian. This freeze could help to prevent your identity from being used to open fraudulent credit accounts in the future.
How to Contact Experian
Dispute Address for Credit Disputes to Correct Errors in Reporting and Lower Credit Scores
I am a credit report attorney in Georgia.
we can help you if your
Experian dispute fails you.
Joseph McClelland, Esq.
Don’t Dispute Online Unless…
Can You Dispute by Phone?
That is a great question. Many FCRA scholars discuss this point. I think the better answer is that I would only do it in combination with a written dispute.
Remember to not dispute Experian online.
Remember to call and dispute only after mailing your dispute.
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