Transunion Dispute

Here's how you can Improve your Credit Report through Disputes

TransUnion is one of the top credit bureaus in the country. It is the youngest of the big “three” companies, and also the smallest, even though it has a database of more than 1 billion consumers.

Credit bureaus are companies that collect information about you, as their client, and this information can easily be accessed by potential lenders to determine your creditworthiness. We are talking about banks and credit card companies.

The bureaus maintain a lot of important details about your credit history. This information is provided to them by your creditors. They then use this information to update your credit report, after which, they come up with your credit score.

This report also contains your personal information such as your legal names, your address, your contact information, and your social security number.

What is a credit dispute?

If your credit report is reflecting a not-so-good status, and you have a low credit score, then, chances are that you are having trouble getting loans and credit card approvals.

Bad credit causes people to stagnate financially and renders them unable to make any credit-related decisions. Your credit score – which I have explained in great details in this article – A guide to Credit Score for College Students, determines most of your financial decisions.

It is therefore essential to ensure that you have a good credit score, and this is not something that you can ignore until you leave college. I always say that the earlier you start taking control of your finances, the better.

So, if you are like most people and have made a mess of things, such that your credit report is a sorry state of affairs, don’t worry, the good news is that this is not a permanent solution, and there are ways of correcting the situation.

Now, one of the simplest methods to improve your credit score is by raising a credit dispute.

The Law:

The information on your credit report that is responsible for calculating your credit score is provided by your creditors as I have mentioned above. The law relating to credit reports and credit scores is governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). I have talked more about this agency FCRA below.

A credit dispute, therefore, is your legal right, which you have been afforded by the FCRA. You are allowed to challenge the accuracy of the information on your credit report.

Here are some key points to note when it comes to disputes;

  • You are only required to disputes to the companies that created your credit report. These are Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian.
  • You should also send these disputes directly to your creditors as well – These includes banks, the credit card companies, and debt collectors.
  • You can initiate a dispute online – for credit bureaus, or by telephone, or even using a snail mail.
  • You have a right to handle all credit disputes by yourself.
  • You can also pay a credit repair company to do this on your behalf.

Where is the problem?

Your credit report should only contain error-free and accurate information. It is your federal right. But many consumers still report numerous errors on their reports, despite the bureau’s efforts to keep the reports accurate.

According to a recently completed study by the Federal Trade Commission, one in every five people has found mistakes on their credit reports. This means that 20% of Americans are faced with this problem, which is quite alarming.

Other studies, in fact, estimate that it is much higher than that.

The fact remains that when there are errors on your report, it is a big deal. This is because these errors will affect your credit score.

Errors on your credit report should never be ignored. But what should you do when you notice errors?

Simple. Report them to the credit bureau in charge.

How to dispute a TransUnion Credit Report:

When you receive your credit report, here are a few errors you should be looking out for;

  • Any accounts that you do not recognize. This is mostly a result of identity theft.
  • Any incorrect numbers and account names.
  • Any issues with payment history.
  • Any records that are more than 7 years old and are still being reflected in the report.
  • Any unauthorized credit inquiries.

Options for disputing:

Whenever you spot errors or inaccurate records on your TransUnion credit report, there are 3 ways in which you can dispute this;

  1. By sending an email.
  2. Filling an online dispute form.
  3. Calling TransUnion offices and reporting the discrepancy.

All of these methods will work at disputing a transaction, but we highly recommend the use of mail, as this will give you a paper trail, whereas using the phone may not give you this paper trail that is very important.

Dispute by mail:

This is where you start when you want to dispute your credit report through mail. According to the company, including the following information on your dispute form is mandatory;

  • The File Identification Number that appears on your credit report.
  • Your current address information.
  • Your Date of Birth.
  • Your Social Security Number.
  • The name of the creditor who submitted the information to TransUnion.
  • The account number for the transaction in question.
  • Reasons for filing the dispute.
  • Any updates that the company should make to your personal information.

Mail your letter to this address;

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

Before sending this letter, ensure to make a copy of it and keep it for your own personal records.

Also, ensure to send the package through certified mail and always request for a return receipt to ensure that the letter was delivered.

Online dispute

Online dispute

In order to file an online dispute with TransUnion, you will first need to create an account on their website and provide your personal details such as your full names, date of birth, address, social security number, etc. If you already have an account, then you can of course bypass this step and log in straight into your account.

After registration, you can then proceed to log in and submit your dispute. Here is the procedure;

  • Select the tab that says “New Investigation.” Then enter your personal details then submit.
  • Review all of the information on your credit report and look for all the irregularities you can find. Select the link that reads “request an investigation” and input the dispute. Wait before submitting.
  • Once all of the disputes have been input into the system, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and hit on continue.
  • Upload all of the supporting documents which will be used to substantiate your claim for the investigations to begin.
  • Select the “submit” button in order to complete the request to TransUnion.

Dispute through phone:

To dispute using through the phone, kindly call TransUnion on 800-916-8800, during the working hours Monday to Friday. i.e. 8 am to 11 pm – EST.

Before making this call, ensure you have a copy of your credit report because the customer service department will require your File Identification Number in order to begin investigations into your disputed accounts.

It is always a good idea to have all of the supporting documents as you may be required to submit them while talking to the customer service rep.

What to expect after a dispute has been lodged:

Once TransUnion receives your dispute, they have 30 days to start an investigation and issue you with a response in regards to the dispute lodged. During this waiting period, you are required to submit your personal information to the party that reported the information to TransUnion – these are your creditors or lenders.

In most cases, you can be able to track the status of the dispute online on the TransUnion website.

If you are lucky and the results are successful, then your credit report will be updated in order to reflect the correct information. TransUnion will then be able to send you an updated report without any of the disputed transactions.

But, if the outcome is unsuccessful, then, the information you had disputed will remain on your credit report and at this point, your only course of action is to reach out to the creditor with some supporting documents or you can also choose to open yet another dispute with new information.

If the lender will not respond to your dispute, then TransUnion shall be forced to remove the disputed entries from your credit report.

To make things easier for you when it comes to your lenders or creditor, send them a detailed letter that explains exactly what you think is wrong with the credit report information that they sent to the credit bureau, and include a copy of the report, plus all your receipts and other documents that will show the entry was erroneously reported.

Also, request for a return receipt, to show proof that the creditor received the letter.

Will a credit score dispute affect your credit score?

There is a misconception that whenever you dispute your credit report, chances are that your score will go lower. This is not true. In fact, it is wrong. Your score shall not be penalized or affected, whenever you submit a dispute with TransUnion.

I have explained above what will happen when you submit your dispute to TransUnion. If you are successful, then the disputed items will be deleted from your credit report, and if you are unsuccessful, they shall remain.

If they are expunged from your record, within 30-45 days, you shall see a change in your credit score. Also, ensure to check your credit report after this time period, to ensure that everything is okay, and there aren’t any added discrepancies.

The only thing you need to be aware of is the XB code. This is a code that is normally assigned to an account that is in the process of dispute, and it pauses any effect to your credit score while the account is under dispute.

Experian Credit Dispute:

If you retrieve your credit report from Experian and have noticed errors. Then, it is your legal right to dispute such errors. As mentioned above, the FCRA has afforded you this right. Just like TransUnion, Experian gives you different options for disputing.

  1. By mail.
  2. Online
  3. Placing a security freeze.
  4. By telephone.

Let us look at each and how to go about it.

By Mail:

Sending a dispute by mail involves writing a letter to Experian and explaining in details the transactions that you wish to dispute on your credit report. According to the company, you must include the following information on your dispute form;

  • The File Identification Number that appears on your credit report.
  • Your current address information.
  • Your Date of Birth.
  • Your Social Security Number.
  • The name of the creditor who submitted the information to TransUnion.
  • The account number for the transaction in question.
  • Reasons for filing the dispute.
  • Any updates that the company should make to your personal information.

 

 

 

Mail your letter to this address;

Experian
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013

The company requests you to ensure that you include an address that you have lived in over the last 2 years, a bank or insurance form, a copy of utility bill, and your government issued ID.

You should also include all supporting documentation that can authenticate your dispute. Mail the copies only and keep the originals.

Online dispute:

For an online dispute, follow the following steps;

  • Retrieve an online copy of your Experian credit report – You are actually entitled to one per year.
  • Critically review the report and look for errors.
  • Dispute the report on their website by clicking on the link marked ‘dispute.’
  • Select a reason why you feel the entry should be disputed.
  • Attach all relevant documentation that can substantiate your claim.
  • Add a “personal statement” on your claim that will be visible to anyone reading your dispute.
  • When finished feeding the system with all the information, click on submit.

Placing a security freeze on your report

This can be done either online, or through the mail. A credit freeze or security freeze refers to the process of restricting all access to your credit report without your permission. Most people result to this option in case of a data breach.

Placing a security freeze on your report

To request your free credit freeze with Experian, you will need to log on to their website and visit their freeze center or call this number – 1 888 EXPERIAN. Then, provide them with the information needed for this to take place.

If you decide to submit this request in writing, you can send your letter to; Experian Security Freeze, P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013.

This request should include the following information;

  • Your names in full, including your middle initial.
  • Your social security numbers.
  • Your addresses for the last two years.
  • Your date of birth.
  • A copy of a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license or a state ID.
  • A copy of utility bill, insurance card, or bank statement.

Also read: Credit Freeze

What to expect after filing the dispute:

After filling your dispute, Experian has 30 days to look into it and issue you with a response in regards to the dispute lodged. During this waiting period, you are required to submit your personal information to the party that reported the information to Experian – these are your creditors or lenders.

In most cases, you can be able to track the status of the dispute online on the Experian website.

If you are lucky and the results are successful, then your credit report will be updated in order to reflect the correct information. Experian will then be able to send you an updated report without any of the disputed transactions.

But, if the outcome is unsuccessful, then, the information you had disputed will remain on your credit report and at this point, your only cause of action is to reach out to the creditor with some supporting documents or you can also choose to open yet another dispute with new information.

If the lender will not respond to your dispute, then Experian shall be forced to remove the disputed entries from your credit report.

To make things easier for you when it comes to your lenders or creditor, send them a detailed letter that explains exactly what you think is wrong with the credit report information that they sent to the credit bureau, and include a copy of the report, plus all your receipts and other documents that will show the entry was erroneously reported.

Also, request for a return receipt, to show proof that the creditor received the letter.

Also Read: 609 Credit Repair Letter- Is it real?

Equifax Dispute:

With Equifax, the procedure is the same as that of TransUnion and Experian. You can use the following information to either send a mail, call or log into their website and lodge an online dispute.

Mail to:

Equifax
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Telephone number – 1-866-349-5191. You are only allowed to call them during working hours. 8 am – 8 PM. EST.

Online Dispute:

Equifax strongly advises against disputing through their website, but if you still feel inclined to do so, here is the procedure;

  • On the page that reads “step 1: Authentication,” enter your identifying information in order to log into the system. Click on ‘continue,’ so you can start the process of raising a dispute.
  • Answer the 4 questions on the page concerning your credit report so as to further verify who you are.
  • Select the box that says ‘dispute item.’ This appears right below the item in question.
  • Upload any supporting documentation you may have concerning your disputed transactions. These will be used to substantiate your claim. Hit the button marked ‘continue.’
  • Review all the details you have input before submitting your dispute.

After the dispute;

Just like Experian and TransUnion, Equifax has 30 days to investigate and issue you with a response to your dispute.

If you are successful, they will remove the disputed transactions from your credit report, but if you are not successful, these items shall remain.

You can go a step further and contact the creditor in case you are unsuccessful and request him to remove the items from your report. If they do not respond to you, then Equifax will go ahead and remove the items anyway.

Reasons why you should never lodge your dispute online:

There are 2 main reasons why you should never lodge a dispute online. The first one, of course, is due to the fact that this method of disputing a credit report does not leave any paper trail, and believe me, you will need a paper trail when it comes to disputes.

When you send a letter, you must ensure that it comes with a notice of receipt, which means that you shall know for sure that it was received by the credit bureau, and they will not come back later and claim that they never received your dispute, since you shall have the proof with you.

It also gives you a date of when they received this dispute. The date is definitely important because the law says that, when they receive any disputes, they are supposed to give you feedback and take the necessary action after 30 days. If these days expire before you have received a response, then you can take it up with the FCRA.

The second reason why you should never handle a dispute online is that information on the internet is not handled the same way. According to the laws laid out by the FCRA, information sent through the internet can be disregarded if it is deleted after 3 days.

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

I have mentioned the FCRA on numerous occasions on this or other articles on my website, and I feel it is important that we understand this agency much better, so that as a consumer you can know your rights when it comes to your credit report and credit score.

This will just be a short analysis of the Act and the laws. Let’s get started;

The FCRA’s main purpose is to give consumers the right to know the information listed on their credit reports. It also allows you as a consumer to dispute any information you feel doesn’t reflect the truth or information that may have been erroneously shared.

Prior to the formation of FCRA in the ’70s, banks and other lending institutions could lend and deny loans to whoever they chose, and this was on their own discretion there was no law governing this. The act was largely created in order to help protect you from discrimination based on your family, ethnicity, race, and other issues that lenders can use to determine whether you qualify for a loan or not.

How does the FCRA offer you protection?

One of its main jobs is to regulate the 3 main credit bureaus, i.e. Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Under the FCRA rules, they are required to provide you with a free credit report once a year upon your request, so that you can have an opportunity to review the information on the reports for accuracy.

The agencies must also provide a means for you to dispute any of the information provided so that it can always reflect the true and fair status of your finances.

The FCRA disputes:

According to the FCRA, the credit agencies are supposed to facilitate any disputes between you and the creditors. If you disagree with anything on your credit report, they are supposed to liaise with the creditor and authenticate the validity of that dispute.

If you are proven right, then they must go ahead and expunge the record from your credit report.

They are normally given 30 days to do this.

Now, not only do they create a consumer-friendly dispute process, but they also dictate how long a negative report can stay on your credit report. This helps to prevent the past from affecting your future.

In this regard, an item is only allowed to remain on your credit report for seven years, or 10 years in case there was a bankruptcy issue.

The FCRA, therefore, requires the credit bureaus to ensure that they correct this information or they delete it from your credit report.

Who should access your credit report?

According to the FCRA, permission to your credit report should only be granted to lenders, employers, or insurance companies. They must also have a permissible purpose for requesting access to your report, otherwise, they should not be granted access.

One of the most common reasons why your credit report is normally requested is when you have applied for a loan or a credit card.

Employers, on the other hand, must receive written consent from you in order to access your report. Landlords will require to do a credit check before renting you an apartment, so they can verify that you shall be able to pay the rent.  They will need to have written consent as well.

If for any reason, the result of accessing your credit report is a negative one, they must explain to you why this negative result has come to be. For example, if you are denied a mortgage as a result of your credit report, the lender should explain the right credit score that is required in order for you to qualify for a mortgage.

Access to your credit score:

Now, while you are entitled to a credit report every year, your credit score is not issued for free. However, you can request to see your credit score whenever you want to, but at a fee.

Each of the 3 credit bureaus has programs with a wide range of products that allows you to access your credit score. These are what you keep seeing being advertised by the bureaus.

The cost of accessing your credit score is usually between $10-$15.

How to opt out of the mailing list:

I’m sure you are in one of them, where you receive numerous emails of offers for loans and credit cards. This is actually quite legal and very easy. The reporting agencies are normally allowed to provide companies with names and addresses of their consumers making up different credit profiles.

They will send you personalized emails for credit cards, insurance, etc.

Now, if this isn’t your cup of tea, and you are probably quite irritated by it all, the FCRA allows you to opt out of the mailing lists. This ensures that the credit bureaus remove your information from these lists and as such, you shall not receive any of their emails.

You can also call 1-888-5-OPT OUT, to be removed by all of the three reporting agencies lists.

As much as these emails and adverts can be irritating to keep receiving, it is important to note that sometimes they may contain offers that you can actually benefit from, so, before opting out completely, weigh the benefits against the limitations so you can come up with an informed decision.

Conclusion:

The information contained in this article is geared towards helping you understand how you can raise a dispute if you notice errors in your credit report. The reason why this is extremely important is that your credit report directly contributes to your credit score.

If you see errors, do not take it lightly, because this may make the difference between getting that loan or being rejected. The FCRA act protects you from exploitation and unnecessary discrimination.

Speak up and speak out, because according to statistics, 1 in every 5 Americans has errors on their credit report, and so, you are not the only one. The law clearly states that you are entitled to accurate and error-free reporting on your credit report. Take a stand and fight for your financial freedom through disputes.

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