Credit report errors can wreak havoc on your credit score. So if you spot issues in any of your reports from the three credit bureaus, you’ll want to have them removed right away.
The first step to rectify the issue is to file a formal dispute with one of the three credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. This guide will walk you through the process of filing disputes with Equifax.
Keep reading to learn how to move forward:
What’s in Your Equifax Credit Report
Your Equifax report contains the following information:
- Identifying information – your name, date of birth, address, Social Security number and place of employment. (The information listed here does not impact your credit score).
- Account information – the loan or credit limit, outstanding balance, current account status, date the account was opened, and payment history.
- Inquiries or credit checks performed by others.
- Collection accounts and public records, including delinquent accounts sold to collection agencies, tax liens, lawsuits, bankruptcies, foreclosure or wage garnishments, as reported from the state and county courts.
If you spot inaccuracies in the information listed, you’ll want to move forward with filing a formal dispute.
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How to Dispute your Equifax Credit Report
You can file a formal dispute with Equifax by mail, online or via phone.
Dispute by Mail
If possible, file a dispute by mail as it allows you to have a paper trail and offers protection to you as a consumer that isn’t available when you dispute online or by phone.
Use a template like this one to dispute by mail with Equifax, and be sure to include:
- The Report Confirmation Number
- Your current address
- Your date of birth
- Your social security number
- The name of the company that furnished the information to Equifax
- The account number of the item in question
- The reason why you’re filing a dispute
- Updates that need to be made to your personal information
The package should be sent via certified mail with a return receipt requested to:
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Be sure to send copies of both the letters and supporting documentation, but keep the originals on file for future reference.
Please note that we do not advise disputing your credit report online. We believe that you will get better results by sending your disputes by mail.
However, if you must, you can submit a dispute by visiting the Online Dispute page and taking the following steps:
- Enter your identifying information on the page that reads “Step 1: Authentication”, then hit “Continue”.
- Answer the four questions about your credit file to verify your identity.
- Select the red box that reads “Dispute item” that appears beneath the item in question.
- Upload any supporting documentation to substantiate your claim, then hit “Continue”.
- Review the details of your claim, then hit “Continue”.
Upon completion, be sure to jot down the 10-digit confirmation code that appears on your screen. You can use this number to check the status of your request at any time.
Dispute by Phone
To dispute by phone, call the Equifax dispute phone number: 1-866-349-5191. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm (Eastern Standard Time). It’s also a good idea to have your credit report handy, along with pen and paper to jot down instructions on where to send any supporting documentation.
What to Expect After a Dispute Has Been Filed
Once a dispute has been filed, Equifax has 30 days to investigate and respond.
If they rule in your favor, the information will be removed from your credit report. You’ll also receive a written notice detailing the outcome along with an updated report.
You should also know that the negative entry will be removed if the creditor fails to respond to your claim or provide adequate proof that what they’ve reported is correct.
But what if they don’t rule in your favor? Well, you’ll also receive a written notice explaining why and stating that your report won’t be updated to reflect any changes. And at that point, you have the option to include a statement in your report, file another dispute or move on.
Disputing Directly with the Creditor
You can also file a dispute directly with the creditor who reported the information about you to Equifax. Send a letter outlining the information you wish to dispute. Also, include a copy of your credit report and highlight the account in question. Just be sure to blackout any personally sensitive information, like other account numbers or your social security number.
The company is required to report your dispute request to Equifax. If your creditor can’t (or won’t) confirm the accuracy of your account, it should be removed from your report.
Does a dispute hurt your credit?
A dispute itself doesn’t impact your credit, so there’s no harm in trying. Only the outcomes of the dispute have an effect. For example, if you’re successful in having a late payment removed, your credit score would increase.
If some type of negative information is added to your report, your score would likewise decrease. And if you dispute some type of administrative information, like your name or address, your score won’t be affected at all.
You may also see a temporary increase in your credit score during the dispute process. That’s because the FICO scoring model doesn’t consider accounts that are currently being investigated for late payments or the balance amount.
At this time, you’ll notice those accounts are marked with an “XB” code on your credit report. When the account in question has a high balance, for example, that debt will temporarily stop contributing to your credit score.
However, you generally can’t close on a new loan while you have a dispute underway. That’s meant to prevent people from frivolously disputing high-balance accounts and then get better approval odds and rates while the dispute is in process. Lenders understand credit report codes and usually will make you wait until everything is settled.
Kudos to you for taking the proper actions to get your credit in order. Moving forward, be sure to stay on top of your credit reports to ensure what’s listed is an accurate representation of your credit health.
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