Maintaining an accurate credit profile can be a tricky business sometimes. With all of the potential sources of information such as banks, financial institutions, mortgage lenders, public records databases, and more, it’s no wonder information gets a little messed up once in a while. Unfortunately, with millions upon millions of consumer data constantly being refreshed by one of the three credit bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, there’s no real automatic checks and balances in place to ensure the accuracy of your credit report data. It’s all on you.
That’s why monitoring your credit is so important. You can choose to monitor your profile yourself on a regular basis. You may check in on your score every few months or at the very least every six months. In the process of doing so, you’re looking to see whether your credit score went up or down and why. You may look at the actual data that caused the fluctuation in the score in the first place by evaluating your credit report in detail.
Credit Monitoring Services
You could be employing the services of credit monitoring software that will do all the checking in for you. These services are pretty diligent about notifying you of changes to your credit pretty quickly. You could decide to just go with the basic service that the credit monitor company provides or the deluxe package. Either way, you feel you’re covered.
What if, by chance either looking in on your credit yourself or receiving an alert from a credit monitoring service, you find an anomaly in your credit report? What do you do? While many mistakes appearing on your report are little and don’t have a huge influence on your score, others may have more significant consequences.
If you hadn’t been monitoring your credit at all, you may have not noticed the mistake for a very long time, letting it sit and wreak havoc on your credit score. If you have been paying attention, however, you can step into action immediately to rectify the mistake on your credit report.
Each agency has its own process for filing disputes. Since Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are all independent, they do not communicate with each other regarding disputes. So you’ll need to do a little homework to determine if the mistake appears on just one credit report or all three.
But before you start the dispute process with any of the three credit bureaus, try talking to the source of information first. You may save yourself a lot of time and a little bit of stress by calling up the source of the mistake and discussing the problem.
If you do go straight to the credit bureau, that’s fine too. Here’s a rundown of the dispute process for TransUnion in particular:
1) Creating an Online Account
The easiest way to dispute an entry on your credit profile with Transunion is to do it online at their dispute center. You’ll need to create an account to access your data. This is absolutely free and fairly straightforward.
TransUnion will ask you for your name, address, email address, date of birth, and social security. They will ask you to create a username, password, and answer a secret question.
2) Verifying Your Identity
Next, TransUnion will ask you specific questions that pertain to your personal or financial information found on your credit report. This step is to verify your identity and protect your privacy.
3) Starting The Dispute Process
Once you click on the begin dispute process, TransUnion will notify you that it may take up to 45 days to resolve or reply to your dispute. They will also inform you if the data you’re disputing is deemed to be accurate, that entry on your credit profile will not change. Lastly, TransUnion states that you will need to include all the entries you’re disputing in one submission. If you agree to those terms, TransUnion will let you proceed to the next stage.
4) Selecting Your Disputed Information
TransUnion will ask you in which of the two total categories you’d like to dispute: personal information such as name, address, or employer or account information such as credit cards, loans, mortgages, or collections. Some information such as your name, employer, or date of birth cannot be changed online. If you do need to change one of these items, TransUnion will require you to send in your dispute via mail, phone, or fax. These types of errors may show up more often if you’ve experienced a name change from marriage or as a result of divorce.
5) Submitting Your Dispute
You’ll be given the chance to submit as many disputed items as you like, both personal and credit-related. Once you’ve added all your disputes, TransUnion will ask you to submit your dispute. Once you do so, TransUnion will have 45 days to respond to your entries. You can always log into the TransUnion site to check on the status of your dispute during this period. TransUnion will also notify you as your claim is going through processing.
While minor details in either personal or credit category may not be that important, bigger issues could have a significant impact on your creditworthiness, especially inaccurate records indicating late payment. You may need supporting documentation regarding your dispute. This paperwork cannot be submitted through TransUnion’s dispute center site, but they say you can dispute it through their primary site.
Going Straight To The Source
If you have documentation that will help support your claim, you may want to talk to the creditor directly before submitting a dispute with TransUnion or either of the other two credit bureaus for that matter. You may have to submit that documentation to prove your dispute is valid, but the process may be much quicker than going through TransUnion and waiting up to 45 days for a response. Once you’ve found a resolution with the creditor and they’ve updated their records, a copy of that update will be sent to the credit bureaus so the corresponding entry on your credit profile can be updated too.