The New York Times ran an article that contained many misstatements and misunderstandings about the accuracy of credit reports, how to dispute errors, and whether we give preferential treatment to certain customers. We wanted to set the record straight on all points.Recently,
First, a recent study by the Policy & Economic Research Council (PERC) conducted under rigorous peer review reported a high degree of accuracy in consumer credit reports www.perc.net. Below, you’ll find a reminder of what to do if you think there’s an error on your credit report. Finally, we want to take this opportunity to publicly state that Equifax handles everyone who contacts us about credit disputes in the same fair and consistent manner – we do not maintain ‘VIP’ lists. Equifax has been in business for over a century because we provide accurate information that everyone can rely on. Consumers and our customers deserve no less. Our reputation depends on it.
How to Dispute Credit Report Errors
Whenever you obtain a copy of your credit report, you should check the accuracy of the information within it.
We take great care to make sure the information we put into consumer credit files is accurate. Incorrect information can get into your report so we encourage you to check it at least once a year. You can obtain your annual, free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com, but you might also want to check your report before you apply for new credit. Also, many state laws provide consumers the opportunity to receive additional free or reduced fee copies of their credit report. If you know what information appears on your credit report, you can determine whether there are inaccuracies and dispute them before you seek new credit.
Inaccurate information on your credit file may impact your score. If you have been a victim of fraud, or if a creditor incorrectly reports your account as delinquent, it may decrease your credit score and may affect your ability to get credit at the best rate.
When you review your credit report, check your personal information for accuracy first. Is your name spelled correctly? Is your correct address listed?
Then check the accounts that are listed. Make sure they all look familiar and they all belong to you. If you see accounts you don’t recognize, this could be a sign of fraud or identity theft.
Steps for Filing a Dispute
Ask yourself the following questions about your credit report:
- Is my personal information-my name and address-correct?
- Is my account payment history correct for each creditor?
- Are the balances and account age (date opened) correct for each of my accounts?
- Are there any inquiries on my credit file for an account for which I did not apply?
- Are there any inactive accounts that show new activity?
If you think any of the information in your credit file is incomplete or incorrect, you can notify the credit reporting agency (CRA) directly, to initiate a dispute, free of charge. At Equifax, you can file a dispute online, by mail or by phone. Click here for more information about how to start an investigation/file a dispute with Equifax.
If you find an inaccuracy with one CRA, you may want to get your credit file from the other two credit agencies to see if their files contain the same error:
After you’ve corrected an error with one CRA, the other agencies should receive the corrected information in the near future. However, for prompt correction, we recommend you contact the other two agencies individually to dispute the error. You may also contact your creditor directly to dispute inaccurate information.
What Happens after I File My Dispute?
We are in business to provide information others can rely on. If there’s an issue with your credit report, let us know because we care about getting it right.
By law, a CRA is required to investigate a dispute within 30-45 days of its filing. In 30 days (or 45 if the dispute is based on your annual free credit report), the CRA will notify you of the outcome of your dispute. If you submit your complaint by mail, the notification will be mailed to you; if you file online, you can receive email updates throughout the investigation.
Based on the investigation, the CRA will either update the current status of the disputed information (which may include letting you know if the furnisher of the information verified that it was reporting correctly) or delete the item from your file. If the creditor has verified information that you disputed as accurate, the information will remain in your credit file, but you can add a statement of explanation. Learn how to add a statement of explanation to your credit file.
Remember, the credit reporting agencies such as Equifax do not create the information on your file; we are simply repositories for the information provided to us by creditors. It is best to monitor your credit regularly to make sure all the information is up-to-date and accurate.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.