If you were recently denied for a credit card or loan, the first thing you should do is order your free annual credit report to see why. You’ll receive reports from the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
Once you receive the reports and review them, you may come across errors on your credit report, such as an incorrectly reported late payment or an account you don’t recognize. If the error is shown on Experian’s credit report, you can file a dispute online about the item in question directly with Experian.
Filing a dispute is one of the fastest ways to repair your credit. Best of all, filing one is free. It’s best to understand how to dispute an inquiry and what you’ll need in order to ensure the credit bureau will remove the negative item from your credit file.
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What Information Can I Dispute on My Credit Reports?
There are certain things you could dispute on your credit report. Make sure you read and review your credit file for accuracy and file a dispute if any of the following are incorrect:
Make sure your name and its variations over time, such as your maiden name or middle name are spelled correctly. Confirm all present and past home addresses listed are correct. Don’t overlook the review of your personal information — names you don’t use or home addresses you don’t recognize on your credit report may be signs of identity theft.
Review your lines of credit, loans, and credit cards and make sure that the balances and payment history are accurate. Incorrect account information could negatively impact your credit score — look for reported late payments, delinquencies, or other errors and dispute them to wipe them off your credit history. And if you find inquiries for credit card applications you don’t recognize or other types of loans and cards you didn’t apply for, you may be a victim of identity theft or fraud.
Mixed Credit Files
Mix-ups happen — make sure all accounts listed are yours, especially if your name is common.
Duplicate Reporting of an Item
Having a high amount of debt can affect your credit score. If one of your loans or cards is reported twice, your debt levels are double what they actually are.
Items Too Old to Remain on Your Credit History
Closed accounts, late payments, delinquencies, or bankruptcies older than seven years should come off your credit report automatically. If you come across any negative accounts older than seven years, file a dispute to have them removed.
Filing an Experian Dispute Online
The simplest way to dispute items on your credit report with Experian is by using the online Dispute Center. You’ll be able to complete the process in a few minutes, follow up on the inquiry’s progress and receive email updates along the way. Here’s how to file an Experian dispute online:
- Click on “Start a New Dispute”;
- Choose the reason why from the dropdown menu;
- Provide a brief explanation if prompted;
- Review the information and click on “Submit”;
- You’ll see a confirmation message. You may be asked to upload documentation supporting your claim;
- Look out for update emails from Experian;
- Experian will contact the provider of the information shown on your report. If Experian confirms the info is incorrect, it will be corrected. If it can’t be verified, it will be removed or updated. If the issuer verifies it as accurate, it will remain on your credit report.
Filing an Experian Dispute by Mail
Although initiating an online dispute is faster, you have the option of filing an Experian dispute by mail. Here’s how:
- Download, print and fill out the Experian dispute form;
- Include copies of documents that support your claim;
- Mail the items to:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013.
Placing a Security Freeze on Your Experian Credit Report
If you discover accounts you never opened or home addresses you never lived at, you may be a victim of identity theft. Placing a security freeze on your Experian credit report stops anyone from getting access to your credit report without your permission. You’ll need to contact all three credit bureaus to place a security freeze for each.
To place a freeze on your Experian credit report, visit Experian’s Security Freeze Center or call 1-888-397-3742 (1-888-EXPERIAN). 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.
You may need to upload a utility bill and government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport for verification. Once your request is complete, you’ll receive a letter in the mail with a PIN number you can use to temporarily remove the freeze when you apply for credit.
Supporting Materials Needed to File a Dispute
To file a dispute successfully, make sure you round up the following items to back up your claim:
- A copy of a utility bill or a credit card statement confirming your address;
- A copy of a government-issued photo ID;
- Proof supporting why you believe the item is an error, such as a payment confirmation showing your credit card bill was paid on time and not late, canceled checks, a police report showing you reported identity theft, or proof of forbearance or deferment.
What to Expect After Filing an Experian Dispute
Experian typically completes its investigation within 30 days. If you filed an Experian dispute online, the credit bureau will keep you updated by email. If you mailed your dispute in, you’ll receive a letter in the mail with the results of the investigation.
Be sure to get your FREE credit report through Experian to see if there are any unknown activity on your credit history that may require submitting a dispute.
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