Hard pulls on your credit each time you apply for a loan or credit card, reported late payments, and high credit card balances can all lower your credit score. While you should avoid bad habits when it comes to managing your credit, you should especially keep an eye on any incorrect information on your credit report.
If you’ve recently been denied a loan or credit card, one of the first steps you should take is to order a free annual credit report from all three credit bureaus. It’s important to request a report from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax — credit history information on one report may not show on the other.
Any incorrect information you uncover while reading your credit report can be disputed to the credit bureaus for correction or removal. If you have other serious issues, such as a charge off or delinquency, you can always reach out to a reputable credit repair company to help with improving your credit score. Here’s how the process works if you’d like to file a dispute with Equifax.
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What Information Can I Dispute on My Credit Reports?
The purpose of disputing items is to maintain an accurate credit report. You may only dispute items you believe are wrong or not yours — filing a dispute on your recent bankruptcy in the hopes to remove it from your credit won’t work. You may dispute any of the following items if they’re incorrect:
- Personal information: If your names or current and past home addresses are misspelled or wrongly listed. You should not only dispute the errors but stay alert — one of the signs of identity theft may be a home address on your credit report you don’t recognize or a name with the wrong spelling or middle initial.
- Account information: Make sure the credit accounts listed on your credit report are correct and complete — errors and omissions could hurt your score. Look for mistakes, such as whether the account is closed, has the wrong credit limit, or incorrectly reported late payments.
- Inquiries you don’t recognize: Inquiries for credit cards or loans you didn’t apply for may be red flags for identity theft. A hard pull on your credit will temporarily lower your score, so dispute it. And if you’re concerned you may be a target of identity theft, consider creating a security freeze to prevent any further unauthorized credit checks.
- Mixed credit files: There are times when someone else’s credit account is accidentally reported as yours, especially if you have a common name. Disputing the mixed credit file opens an investigation, which should delete the incorrect file once it’s resolved.
- Duplicate reporting of an item: If a credit card or other type of credit account has been reported more than once on your credit file, your credit score may be affected because it shows you have twice the debt you actually have.
- Items too old to remain on your credit history: Even the worst credit incidents such as a bankruptcy should automatically fall off your credit report after seven to 10 years. If you find any older than the limit, you could dispute them to have them removed.
Filing an Equifax Dispute Online
There are a couple of ways to dispute items on your credit report. Filing a dispute online may be your easiest and fastest option. To file an Equifax dispute online:
- Click on “Submit a Dispute”;
- Enter your personal information including name, current address, and Social Security number;
- Enter the item(s) you’d like to dispute;
- Upload requested documents supporting your claim, and submit;
- Watch for email updates and a decision over the next 30 days.
Filing an Equifax Dispute by Mail
You may also file a dispute by mail. You’ll need to write a letter explaining why you’re disputing the item, attach copies of supporting evidence, and mail it to:
Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256.
Don’t forget to include the following information in the letter:
- Your name;
- Current address;
- Date of birth;
- Social Security number;
- Account number found on the credit report of the item you’re disputing;
- Name of the company associated with the item you’re disputing (if applicable);
- Reason you’re disputing an item;
- Requested correction (removal, update, correction).
Supporting Materials Needed to File a Dispute
Some items which could prove the disputed item is incorrect are:
- A copy of your photo ID showing your name and current address;
- A copy of your Social Security card or pay stub/tax form displaying your correct number;
- If there’s an address error, a copy of a document containing your correct address, such as a lease, utility bill, or mortgage statement;
- Proof of the incorrect reporting, such as a copy of a canceled check, a payment confirmation, bankruptcy schedule, a letter confirming the account was deferred or in forbearance, or a police report showing you were the victim of identity theft.
Placing a Security Freeze on Your Equifax Credit Report
Some of the signs of identity theft include accounts you never opened or home addresses at which you never lived. Monitoring your credit reports regularly is just one way to watch for fraud and identity theft.
You can freeze your credit report to stop others from accessing it without your permission by contacting all three credit bureaus. Place a freeze on your Equifax credit report online or by calling 1-888-298-0045. You’ll need to provide personal information to verify your identity such as:
- Full name;
- Date of birth;
- Social Security number;
- Home addresses you’ve lived at in the past two years.
When you’re ready to apply for a loan or credit, you can temporarily lift the freeze. Unlike the other credit bureaus, Equifax won’t require a PIN for applying and lifting security freezes.
What to Expect After Filing an Equifax Dispute
An Equifax dispute investigation and resolution takes about 30 days from start to finish. You may track its progress through the website if you filed online. If you mailed your dispute, you’ll receive a letter with the results of the investigation once it’s completed.
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