You apply for credit, insurance, or a new job but are swiftly rejected due to issues with your credit history. So, you reach out to the decision-maker to learn more about what’s wrong with your credit profile and they tell you that your Experian report was used to reach a decision and there was information in it that resulted in an unfavorable outcome. But you aren’t aware of any issues with your credit so you’re a bit taken aback.
In most instances, a scenario like this means the report contains inaccurate, fraudulent, or untimely information that needs to be disputed. But maybe you don’t know where to start. No worries. Read on to learn how to handle the dispute process with Experian from start to finish. Need help with the other credit reporting agencies? Check out how to dispute your TransUnion credit report and how to dispute your Equifax credit report.
Contents of Your Experian Credit Report
To determine which items need disputing, the first step in the process is to retrieve a copy of your Experian Credit report. You can do so on an annual basis, free of charge, from AnnualCreditReport.com. When looking at your Experian credit report, you’ll notice the following sections:
- Personal Information: includes your name, date of birth, Social Security number, physical address, and information about your employer. (Quick note: each time you apply for credit, personal information you input in the application is forwarded over to the credit bureaus and placed in your credit file).
- Accounts in Good Standing: includes the creditor or lender’s name, contact information, account number, the status of the account, the date it was opened, the type of account, credit limit, monthly payment amount, and payment terms.
- Credit Inquiries: includes both voluntary (hard) and involuntary (soft) credit inquiries. Hard inquiries impact your credit score, but soft inquiries or requests for your credit report initiated by you have no bearing on your score.
- Potentially Negative Items: includes public records, accounts that are delinquent, and accounts that have been charged off by the creditor and turned over to collection agencies.
Review the contents from top to bottom and note any items that are incorrect, fraudulent, or no longer belong on your report because the reporting timeline of seven years has passed. (Quick Note: bankruptcies can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, and tax liens aren’t removed until the debt is paid in full even if 7 years have elapsed.)
You’ll need this information to formally file a dispute, and it helps to be organized and know exactly which items need your attention to avoid overwhelm.
Methods to Dispute Your Experian Credit Report
Experian credit report disputes can be initiated online, by mail, or by phone. However, it’s best to do so by mail instead of online or via phone. Reasoning: When you apply online, you waive the right to a redispute if your claim is rejected. And when you file a dispute by phone, you won’t have a paper trail at your disposal in case you need to revisit the issue later on down the line.
Experian makes it easy to file a dispute by mail with this form. Not only does it provide thorough instructions on how to submit your dispute by mail, but the form also allows you to submit up to four claims at once. The completed form and any supporting documentation should be sent via certified mail with a return receipt to:
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
Experian also gives you the option to scan and upload the form and supporting documentation to Experian.com/upload. Keep in mind that you’ll also need to send a copy of a government-issued identification card along with a utility bill, bank or insurance statement that displays your full name and address so Experian can confirm your identity.
Call the number listed on your credit report to initiate an Experian credit report dispute by phone. As mentioned earlier, you want to retrieve a copy of your credit report first, which can be done by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Or you have the option to request a copy directly from Experian by mail by calling 1-866-200-6020.
The agent will ask a few questions and provide further directives to get you squared away with your dispute(s). And there’s a possibility you’ll be asked to send in the documentation, so be sure to have a notepad on hand to jot down any instructions given to you by the agent.
The online portal for disputes is available 24/7. So if you insist on filing a dispute online for the sake of convenience, follow the steps listed below:
- Create a profile on the Online Dispute Center found here and select the purple button at the bottom of the page that reads “Submit and Continue”.
- Select the “Dispute Center” option found at the bottom of the page, then hit the blue button at the top of the page that reads “Start New Dispute.”
- A condensed copy of your credit report will pop up on the next page. Click on the item you wish to dispute.
- On the next page, detailed account information will appear. Use the dropdown menu to select the reason for your dispute. Hit next and add a comment if you wish on the next page (or hit “Skip This Step” to move forward).
- Review your dispute and if you’re satisfied, hit submit.
- Rinse and repeat for each item that is inaccurate, untimely, or fraudulent.
What Happens After You File an Experian Credit Report Dispute
Upon receipt of your dispute, Experian will reach out to the information furnisher to investigate your claim. By law, they must send you a response within 30 days or the item in question has to be removed from your credit report.
Whether they approve or deny your dispute, you’ll receive a copy of your credit report in the mail if your dispute was filed by mail or phone. If the item was removed or updated based on new data provided by the information furnisher or due to a lack of response, it’ll be reflected in the new report.
If you filed online, you should receive an email once your dispute has been processed. You can also check here to view the status.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Will an Experian Credit Report Dispute Hurt Your Credit Score?
Simply sending in a dispute will not impact your credit score. However, if the processing leads to the reporting of new negative information, your score could drop. On the flip side, if the item is removed or rectified to remove errors in the payment history or balance, you could see a drastic improvement in your score.
Also, keep in mind that while your request is being reviewed, the item in question won’t impact your credit score. Instead, it’ll be annotated with an “XB”, which means your score could be substantially higher for a brief period of time. And creditors know this, so they are often hesitant to approve you for new products until the dispute is complete and lifted from your credit file.
How Should You Handle Rejected Disputes?
Unless you filed the dispute online, you have the option to re-dispute the item so Experian and the information furnisher can take a second look. But to have the best shot at the credit bureau ruling in your favor, include as much supporting documentation as possible.
Should You File a Dispute with the Creditor?
It never hurts to reach out to the creditor to file a dispute and send them a pay-for-delete letter. They are the ones who made the decision to place the information on your report in the first place and have the power to have it removed if necessary. So you can increase the odds of having success in record time to reach out to them directly.
A Word of Caution
Thinking about disputing all the negative entries on your Experian report in hopes of giving your credit score a boost? Proceed with caution as doing so could land you in the hot seat with the creditor since they have the right to deem your disputes as frivolous and toss them out.
A better idea: only dispute inaccurate and untimely information. If there are other issues on your credit report, explore legal ways to boost your score and you’ll start to see improvements in due time.