You can request your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus using a single source: AnnualCreditReport.com. But if you find an error in any of your reports — for example, an incorrect account number or a payment mistakenly marked late — you need to deal with the bureau that issued it.
Each credit bureau assembles your report from information sent to it by lenders, credit card issuers, public agencies and sometimes landlords. Errors in reporting can cost you credit score points, so it’s worth taking the time to clean up your credit reports.
Here’s how to spot errors on your Experian report — and what to do if you find one.
What should I check on my Experian credit report?
Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of public education, advises checking all identifying information to start. Errors here won’t affect your credit scores, but they could indicate that someone else’s information has gotten mixed with yours. Worse, they could mean you’ve fallen victim to identity theft. Check your:
- Social Security number
- Name, including variations under which you’ve applied for credit
- Current and past addresses
Next, check for errors that could affect your credit scores:
- Accounts listed that aren’t yours, especially if you have a common name or use a generational suffix
- Amounts that don’t match your billing statements
- Payments reported late when they were not
- Public records — bankruptcies, liens, judgments — that aren’t yours
- Negative information that’s correct but is too old to be listed on reports
If you see mistakes, gather documentation supporting your case and file a dispute with Experian. The bureau has 30 business days to respond. Griffin said most disputes are resolved within 10 to 14 days, and many even sooner than that.
How to dispute your Experian report online
Griffin says going online is the simplest way to file a dispute, and that’s how most customers do it. Experian’s initial dispute form looks like this:
If you have it handy, enter your Experian credit report number. If not, enter some personal identification information and answer questions about your credit history to access to your report online.
Next, you’ll see a display of your credit report information. To the right of each item is a small box that you can click to open a dispute. The site collects items as you dispute them, similar to the way an online store collects purchases in a virtual shopping cart.
Once you’ve selected the items to dispute, you submit them. It’s like checking out of an online store, minus the payment information. You’ll have a chance to review your data, make changes and upload copies of any supporting documents, such as a cancelled check or a billing statement. If your upload doesn’t go through, you’ll be told how to mail in the information.
Expect an email response on the finding of each dispute. Griffin said there’s no limit on the number of items you may challenge.
How to dispute your Experian report by mail
If you prefer to use mail, you can send a dispute letter to Experian’s National Consumer Assistance Center, P.O. Box 4500, Allen, TX 75013. The Federal Trade Commission recommends using certified mail, return receipt requested. Include:
- Your full name, including your middle initial and any suffix, such as Jr., III, etc.
- Your birthdate and Social Security number
- Addresses where you’ve lived during the past two years
- A copy of an identification card issued by the government, typically a driver’s license, state identification card or passport
- A copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement sent to your address and bearing your name
In your letter, explain which item(s) you think are incorrect and why. If you’re disputing an account, include the account number. Send copies, not originals, of supporting documents. The bureau will respond by mail.
Can I dispute by phone?
Because documents are often required, you might not be able to complete a dispute by phone. However, you can start the process by requesting a credit report by phone. The number is 866-200-6020.
What happens next?
If Experian agrees with you, it will change the information in question on your credit report. It’s smart to check your credit report again to make sure the changes were made. Your response from the bureau will contain a link to the corrected report, or it will mail you a corrected copy.
However, if Experian confirms that it’s reporting the information given to it correctly, you might need to talk to the creditor or other source that’s sending in the data. Ask it to correct the information it’s reporting to Experian.
Next, get in the habit of checking your credit report frequently to keep up with new data. In between your free annual copies from AnnualCreditReport.com, you can check your TransUnion credit report at NerdWallet as often as you like. Regularly monitoring your free report can give you an early warning of potentially score-damaging problems.