When was the last time you took a look at your credit report? If it’s been a while and you feel that your credit score is a bit lower than it should be, there’s a chance you may need to file disputes to clean up any errors or dated entries. Since the credit bureaus, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, don’t communicate with one another, you will need to file disputes separately.
In this article, you will learn how to file disputes directly with Equifax. But before filing a dispute, it’s a good idea to review your Equifax credit report in its entirety and highlight any incorrect, fraudulent, or dated information you see. That way, you can prepare all your disputes at once.
Word to the wise: refrain from filing frivolous disputes as they could do more harm than good. How so? Well, you run the risk of any future disputes getting tossed out. Even worse, you could open the floodgates with collection agencies and have to go through the cycle of constant calls and letters once again.
Contents of Your Equifax Credit Report
There are four main components to your Equifax credit report.
In this section, you’ll find information related to your identity, which includes:
- Date of birth
- Physical address
- Social Security number
Prospective creditors and lenders use this data to confirm that you are who you say you are, but it has no bearing on your credit score. You should also know that errors in this section could automatically result in a denial when applying for credit.
The contents of this section include specifics on your debt and credit products, including:
- Credit Limit (credit cards) or total loan amount (auto loan, student loan, mortgage, etc)
- Current balance
- Payment history by month (i.e. OK, 30-days, 60-days, 90-days, 120-days).
- Account status (i.e. good standing or delinquent)
- The initial date the account became active
In essence, it’s a comprehensive snapshot of your accounts and provides prospective creditors and lenders with insight into how you’ve managed debt and credit products over time. Open accounts are usually listed before closed accounts.
Credit inquiries can in two forms:
- Voluntary (hard) – credit checks conducted by others as a result of a credit application initiated by you (i.e. loan and credit card applications)
- Involuntary (soft) – credit checks conducted by others that you did not initiate (i.e. pre-screened offers, routine reviews by creditors)
While each voluntary inquiry will decrease your credit score between two and five points, involuntary inquiries have no bearing on the three-digit number. Furthermore, there is no impact on your credit score when you check your own credit.
These items typically mean bad news for your credit and include:
- Delinquent accounts sold to collection agencies
- Charged-off credit cards
- Public records (i.e. bankruptcies, foreclosures, wage garnishments, tax liens, suits)
Methods to Dispute Your Equifax Credit Report
You have three options when disputing items on your Equifax credit report.
To file a dispute online, head over to the Online Dispute page. The next steps:
- Populate the form with the requested information
- Select the orange button that reads “Locate my Credit File” at the bottom of the page.
- Four questions will appear on the next screen. Equifax uses these questions to help prevent unauthorized access to your credit file. Once you’ve selected the correct answers, select the orange button that reads “Verify & Proceed” at the bottom of the page.
- Your personal identifying information will appear on the next screen. If you need to make any changes, select the icon of the pen and notepad to the left of the entry and you’ll be allowed to input the correct information. Repeat this process for Accounts, Negative Information, and Credit Inquiries.
- Once you have selected items for dispute, uploaded supporting documentation, and reviewed your inputs, select the orange button that reads “Finish & Proceed” at the bottom of the page.
*Quick Note: This method is not recommended as you’ll automatically waive your right to a re-dispute in the event your claim is denied, per federal law.
The best way to dispute contents in your Equifax credit report is by mail. But first, you’ll want to draft up a credit report dispute letter that includes the following:
- Credit report confirmation number
- Name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth
- Information furnisher’s name
- Account number of the item you’re disputing
- Reason for your dispute
You can use this handy template provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to get started.
Upon completion, make a copy of the letter and attach any supporting documentation along with a copy of your Equifax credit report with the item in question circled or highlighted. Send via certified mail with a return receipt to:
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256
Equifax also accepts credit report disputes by phone. To get started, call 1-866-349-5191. They have customer support representatives available Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm (EST).
When initiating your request by phone, be sure to note the name of the representative you are speaking to, along with any directives they provide regarding the next steps, and where to send the documentation that supports your claim.
What Happens After You File an Equifax Credit Report Dispute
Equifax has 30 days to conduct an investigation and respond to your dispute. You’ll receive a notification in the mail with their decision that includes a copy of your updated credit report if the credit bureau upholds your claim.
But if you do not receive a response or the information furnisher fails to provide adequate proof to Equifax, the item in question must be removed from your credit report. If you do not agree with the outcome of the dispute, you have the option to file another dispute (unless you initiated the original dispute online).
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Will an Equifax Credit Report Dispute Hurt Your Credit Score?
When you dispute your Equifax credit report, you may see improvements to your credit score or it may stay the same. Increases typically result from the removal of negative entries but your score won’t change if you request an update to your personal information or your account information remains the same.
However, your score may drop if you file a dispute and the information furnisher does not rule in your favor, but subsequently adds negative information that wasn’t previously reported to accurately reflect the status of the account.
Are Items In Dispute Factored Into My Credit Score?
During the dispute window, accounts are not factored into your credit score. This means your score may be a bit higher, but keep in mind that most lenders won’t allow you to close on loan products until the disputes are wrapped up.
Should You File a Dispute with the Creditor?
It’s up to you, and if you choose to do so, simply follow the same instructions as if you were disputing by mail but change the address to that of the information furnishers. Also, use a permanent marker to blot out any of your identifying information that could compromise your identity as you never know who’ll be on the receiving end.
The Bottom Line
By filing disputes and responsibly managing your credit, you’ll give yourself the best shot at a stellar credit profile that gets you approved for competitive interest rates, lower insurance premiums, or helps you land that dream job.