Contacting the Credit Reporting Agencies
Listed below are phone numbers & websites for the three major Credit Reporting Agencies:
How to dispute an error on your credit report
If you identify an error on your credit report and wish to dispute that information with the credit reporting company (Equifax®, Experian®, and/or TransUnion®), you should contact them directly.
We have included the phone numbers and links to the dispute sections below.
What exactly is credit repair?
Anyone can DIY their credit repair (you know… do it yourself) or hire a credit repair company or law firm to attempt credit repair.
Credit repair leverages your legal right to three standards:
- credit reports must be 100% accurate
- entirely fair
- fully substantiated
Too many lesser credit repair companies skip over those last two standards – which involve communicating with one’s creditors – in favor of depending upon simple credit bureau disputes by themselves. Here’s a good example of when a reputable credit repair service can help consumers do something they may not be able to accomplish themselves:
If consumers have a collection account that’s been sold to a few different debt collectors, it may appear on their credit report multiple times.
That information is accurate, but having that one debt dinging their credit score multiple times may not meet the “fair” standard.
How does credit repair work?
A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study found that one in five consumers have an error on at least one of their credit reports. If consumers have items on their credit report that don’t meet the three standards then they may want to consider credit repair – either DIY or via hiring a professional.
A good credit repair company will first pull a person’s credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies to pinpoint credit issues.
Why all three?
Because each credit reporting agency has its own “data furnishers” (aka lenders, credit card companies, debt collectors, etc.) who report that person’s credit information to them. There may be errors that appear on one of the credit reports, but doesn’t appear on the others.
Once those errors have been identified, the consumer will then give a credit repair company any supporting documentation. For example, if there’s a bill on a person’s credit report that person’s spouse was actually responsible for under a divorce decree, the consumer can use that document to prove it shouldn’t be impacting the consumer.
In some cases it might be difficult to determine what to include as far as supporting documentation goes – that’s another way a credit repair company can help one. For example, if a consumer is a victim of identity theft and a fraudulent account is appearing on his or her credit report, it can be tough to prove it isn’t that person’s since that consumer naturally will not have any documents relating to the account.
When the bureaus and data furnishers receive the dispute and supporting information, they will then work with a credit repair company to determine if the item should be removed from that consumer’s credit report. The major law dictating a person’s rights when it comes to credit reporting is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but it isn’t the only law on the consumer’s side when it comes to credit repair.
A good credit repair company will scrub questionable credit report items against other laws – like the Fair Credit Billing Act, which regulates original creditors; the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which oversees collection agencies; and others that address medical illness, military service, student status and other life events.
How long does credit repair take?
Getting negative, inaccurate information off one’s credit reports is one of the fastest ways to see an improvement in one’s scores. Since credit bureaus have to respond and resolve a dispute within 30 days (there are a few exceptions that may extend this to 45 days), it’s a short timeline that can help consumers who want to buy a house, get a new car or open up a new credit card soon and don’t have the time to wait to build good credit in other ways.
But that doesn’t mean that a credit repair company can tell people exactly when their credit score will improve since some consumers’ credit issues are much more complex than others.
Since every case and credit report is unique, no professional firm can ethically predict an exact outcome. When picking a credit repair company to fix bad credit, the consumer shouldn’t ask about the future, but instead ask about what real clients have seen in the past.
What should a person avoid when trying to fix credit?
Fixing one’s own credit is absolutely an option and any ethical credit repair company will tell you that.
If a consumer’s situation is simple, and all that he or she has is an obvious error or two, then that person may just want to try a round of credit repair on his or her own.
When trying to fix one’s credit, be clear and concise in disputes with the bureaus and get documentation in order. Consumers can mail a dispute letter (remember, they’ll need to dispute each error with each bureau – credit bureaus won’t clean up credit reports with their competitors) or disputes can typically be submitted online at each of the credit reporting agencies’ respective websites.
If consumers decide to hire a credit repair company or a law firm to help repair their credit, they will need to make sure they’re working with a reputable and ethical company.