Whether you’re the most diligent of credit score checkers or one of those people who only check in on your credit once in a while, there may come a time when you have to dispute an item on your credit report. The thought of wrangling in a correction with a credit bureau may not be your idea of a good time. Luckily, the three credit reporting agencies (aka credit bureaus) are doing their part to make the process as painless as possible.
If you do find one or more discrepancies on your credit report, you should first consider if these mistakes can impact your score in a negative way. If they are just minor issues, it may not be worth the time it takes you to rectify the situation. However, if the mistake is affecting your credit score, then the proper time and attention are definitely worth the pay in the end.
Steps For Submitting A Dispute
Here are some key steps to follow when going through the process of submitting a dispute with Equifax. The process for Transunion or Experian may be a little different, and you’ll need to make sure the mistake isn’t also on their credit reports as well since each agency acts independently.
First, verify that the mistake is actually a mistake. For obvious problems like a misspelled name or incorrect address, this is a non-issue. But for bigger fixes like incorrect balance amounts or issues with late payment records, you’ll benefit from taking a few minutes to verify in your own records that a mistake does indeed exist. This may mean you need to look back through your statements or access your account with a lender online to look back in your transaction and payment history. You may need to verify with your bank as well if the problem involves specific payment dates.
Go To The Source
Once you’ve confirmed that there is a legitimate problem with your credit report, you may consider contacting the source of information before addressing it with Equifax. Of course, you can go straight to Equifax first but, sometimes resolving the issue with the creditor can speed up the dispute clearing process. It will also avoid an “active dispute” entry on your credit report which may impede some future lenders from doing business with you, depending on the severity of the dispute.
To do this, simply call up or access your lender online and notify them of the nature of the dispute. They’ll be able to check their records on their end and fix the mistake quickly if there is an obvious error. Once they’ve corrected the mistake, the record of the clarification will be sent to Equifax, and the correction will be reflected in your credit report.
Submitting A Dispute Online
If you’d prefer to work with Equifax first, the easiest way to submit a dispute is to access their dispute center online. You’ll be asked to submit appropriate information to verify your identity, such as verifying first and last name, social security number, date of birth, home address, and email address.
Equifax will then ask you a series of questions regarding information on your report to confirm if you are actually who you say you are. Once Equifax has verified your identity, they will present your credit report in four sections: personal information, accounts, negative information, and inquiries.
Navigating The Dispute Process
You can click on any one of these categories and select an item to dispute within them. For each item, you’ll have the ability to select a number of checkboxes, listing possible problems with the entry, and you’ll have a text box you can use to enter additional information. Once you’ve clicked dispute on all applicable items, Equifax will send you to the next step which is to Upload Documents.
Submit Support Documentation
Here, you can submit any documents that you feel will help support your claim. Once you’ve finished submitting documents, Equifax will give you the option to review and submit your dispute. After that step is complete, Equifax will give you a confirmation number for your records.
Once your claim is submitted, Equifax has 30 days to resolve the issue. They do this by contacting the source of information and asking the source company or entity to double-check their records. That’s why it may be quicker to deal with the source company in the first place before going to the credit bureaus. Your disputed item may be rectified, left alone, or deleted. Either way, you’ll know within 30 days. You can also log in as often as you like to check the status of your disputes. You’ll need your confirmation number to check the status of your disputes.
Submitting By Phone Or Mail
To submit by phone, call 1-866-349-5191. To submit by mail, you can send your documents and request to P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256. But, submitting online at Equifax’s site is by far the most efficient means to do so.
Once you’ve finished the dispute process with Equifax, be sure to get a copy of your credit report from Transunion and Experian as well, to see if the same issues are listed on their credit reports as well. Chances are mistakes will be on their reports, but you have to communicate with each agency independently in order to rectify the error. If you’re able to fix the mistake with the source of the information first, however, you may be able to have the information fixed with all three credit reporting agencies more quickly.
Regardless of the process, fixing serious mistakes on your credit report is an important step in maintaining your creditworthiness. If you have exceptional credit, the smallest discrepancy can sometimes have a serious impact. Check your credit reports often and take care of any discrepancies as soon as you can. It may be worth getting help from a credit monitoring agency that will do the checking in for you.