How to File an Equifax Dispute
Alongside TransUnion and Experian, Equifax is one of the three major credit agencies in the United States. But while hundreds of millions of people rely on Equifax to be accurate, discrepancies and errors do sometimes occur. As a matter of fact, the frequency of those errors might alarm you: according to a recent study by the Federal Trade Commission, reporting errors affect as many as one in five Americans. What should you do if you’re among them? In this article, our Philadelphia bankruptcy attorneys explain how to file a notice of dispute with Equifax if you think there is a mistake on your credit report.
Why is Good Credit Important?
It’s important to maintain the very best credit score you possibly can. In simple terms, a good credit score makes you attractive to lenders, while a bad one makes you look like an unappealing financial liability. The practical effect is that better credit amounts to more cost-effective loans, while bad credit means you’ll have to struggle with higher interest rates and hesitant lenders.
Some common errors you may have noticed on your credit report include:
- Discrepancies between purchase dates.
- Accounts which have been attributed to you by mistake.
- Unauthorized purchases.
- Applications you never actually filled out or submitted.
Whatever the mistake may be, not only is it your right to dispute a suspected error, it is very important that you do dispute it. You can get this process started by filing what’s called a notice of dispute.
How to Dispute Equifax over a Credit Reporting Error
Disputing a discrepancy with Equifax is an easy process that takes only two steps:
- Closely read through your credit report to pinpoint any errors. You can get a free copy of your report by visiting this website, or by completing this form and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service,
P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348.
- Once you find an error, you need to contact Equifax to let them know. You can do this one of three ways:
- Via web, by using the Equifax online dispute form.
- Via mail, by writing to Equifax Information Services LLC, P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374. Note that this will probably be a much slower process than calling or submitting a web form, particularly if you do not live near the Atlanta area. If you are disputing an error by mail, you should include a succinct dispute letter outlining the issue in question.
- Via phone, by calling (800) 685-1111. This will send you to a live agent, so make sure you’re ready with the Report Confirmation Number near the top of your report.
What Happens After You File an Equifax Online Dispute?
Once Equifax is aware of the issue, it will open an investigation at no charge. During this free investigation, Equifax will reach out to your creditors to see whether the disputed item or items are verifiable and accurate. The creditor will then open its own investigation, and will respond to Equifax with its findings. When Equifax finishes its investigation — a process which takes 30 to 45 days — it will send you written notification. If you used the online Equifax dispute form, you will receive this notification via email. Otherwise, you will receive a letter. Once again, this service is completely free of charge, which gives you all the more reason to take action if you think there is a problem.
Depending on what sort of results the investigation yielded, a few different things can happen. If a mistake was confirmed, Equifax will either update the faulty information to be correct, or will completely remove the faulty item from your file, whichever is more appropriate.
However, if the suspected error turns out to be accurate after all, it will remain on your file as-is. If this scenario occurs, you may want to consider attaching a brief statement of explanation. Why? As TransUnion senior director of consumer education Steve Katz explains, “The purpose is for the consumer to be able to provide some additional context for a lender reviewing the content of the credit report.” In other words, adding a personal statement can help you make a stronger case to lenders.
Generally speaking, once Equifax notices and corrects a confirmed error, TransUnion and Experian will update their corresponding errors accordingly. However, it is still a good idea to contact the remaining agencies yourself. Not only can this help speed up the correction process, it also ensures that no information falls through the cracks. Following an investigation, Equifax recommends calling Experian at (888) 397-3742, and TransUnion at (800) 916-8800.
On a closing note, you should also inform Equifax if you ever have a change of address or name. While not a “reporting error” per se, discrepancies in personal information can also interfere with accurate reporting.
To talk about your credit with an experienced Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyer in a free and confidential appointment, call the law offices of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates today at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.