Experian Data Breach Has Consumers Flocking To Bureau’s Website To Dispute Information
Consumers want to know if their private information is safe from identity thieves. They also want to know how they can dispute erroneous information on their credit reports.
First of all, consumers don’t need to worry about identity theft from the Equifax and Experian data breach. The media has made them sound worse than it was.
Secondly, consumers need to understand that credit reporting errors are common. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that roughly one in four consumers have an inaccurate credit report. It can also take one error for a finance company to decide you are not creditworthy.
That is why it’s important to review your credit report on a regular basis and dispute any errors.
You can get all three major credit reports once every year for free from AnnualCreditReport.com.
How to Dispute Credit Report Inaccuracies
There is a simple process that you can follow to dispute credit report errors. You can usually do it in just four or five steps.
Review Your Credit Reports
First of all, you need to review your report to find the errors. Once you have found them highlight them.
Investigate the Erroneous Information
Credit reports can be confusing to the average consumer. The reports contain a lot of information. The reports also contain a lot of industry codes and jargon. As a result what you may think is a mistake might actually be accurate.
You should also contact the source or sources of the information in question. Chances are that if it is an error on their part they will usually fix it immediately. They don’t want to feel the wrath of the CFPB or a lawsuit. Additionally, asking questions will give you a better idea of what’s going on.
Choose a Dispute Method
There are three ways to file a credit report dispute. The easiest way is to go on online. You can also call the reporting bureau’s toll-free number. Your best bet is to dispute the information in writing by certified mail. Certified mail requires someone to physically sign for your dispute letter. Therefore, receipt of your dispute is documented. The reporting bureau can’t claim they didn’t get it.
Which method you choose is largely a matter of personal preference. In complex cases, it’s best to mail hard copies of supporting documents.
Email: Transunion here
Written Correspondence: P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022
Email: Equifax here
Written Correspondence: P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Email Experian here
Written Correspondence: P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013
Ask An Expert
WalletHub (WH): By and large, do you think people tend to be overly hesitant or too eager to dispute Items on their credit reports?
Chris Gowen (CG): I believe that most people tend to be overly hesitant to dispute items on their credit reports, as most people do not review their credit reports on a regular basis, so they do not know if the reports contain errors.
If a consumer does see errors on their report, they are unsure as to how to dispute the items. Each of the three major bureaus, Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, have different requirements and means for a consumer to issue a dispute. Moreover, the credit reports are not consumer-friendly, as far as reading and interpreting the data contained in the reports.
WH: Do you think credit bureaus make mistakes at an unacceptable rate?
CG: Yes. I’ve spoken to several mortgage loan officers who report that at least 8 in 10 borrowers find issues on their credit report when applying for a mortgage.
Loan officers report that they see issues with borrowers with common names, such as John Smith and Junior or Senior, where their reports contain other’s information.
Many times, collections noted on the reports have actually been paid, but the collection agencies tend to not update to the bureaus when collections accounts are paid. Additionally, since the process for borrowers to report and dispute errors is laborious, the errors are not being addressed or corrected by the bureaus.
WH: What do you think is the biggest impediment people face in filing a dispute?
CG: The bureaus are not consumer-friendly. If a consumer calls the credit bureaus, they are put on hold for long periods of time, and often transferred to multiple representatives.
Consumers report having to send in their dispute multiple times and that more often than not, the bureaus rely on what the creditor is telling them, without requiring any supporting documentation disregarding the documentation provided by the borrower. Ideally, the credit bureaus are supposed to just “warehouse” the credit information, and not provide preferential treatment to either the creditor or the debtor.