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Have you received a copy of your credit report, only to find out it contains something you just don’t understand? There may be a simple answer to your question, but you have to ask. And many people don’t realize that one option is to simply pick up the phone and talk with someone at the credit reporting agency. In fact, federal law requires the credit reporting agencies to provide consumers with a toll-free number staffed during regular business hours.

We asked the three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — each of which fields hundreds of thousands of calls a year from consumers, about the best way to talk to a credit reporting agency. Here are responses provided by Demitra L. Wilson, senior director of public relations for Equifax; Lee Lundy, who leads Experian’s National Consumer Assistance Center; and Clifton M. O’Neal, vice president, corporate communications, for TransUnion.

What kinds of questions can or cannot be handled on the phone?

Equifax: Consumers can choose the method of communication that they prefer – mail, email, phone.  If additional information is needed from the consumer, they may be asked to fax and/or mail those items.

Experian: The most efficient way to work with Experian is through our simple online processes, which consumers can connect to at www.experian.com/help. This includes initiating a dispute, adding a security alert to your credit file (this only needs to be done at one of the three national credit reporting agencies – it will be electronically transmitted to the other two), and ordering a credit report or credit score report.

A consumer should call us if they notice signs of fraud, such as a new credit account that they did not open themselves. (Lundy also points out that Experian now can accept documentation related to a consumer dispute through its online dispute process rather than mailing them in.)

TransUnion:  Every consumer’s situation can be different. The majority of requests can be handled online or through the mail, e.g. misspelled name or address, incorrect address, latest payment not reflected, etc … Some of the benefits with disputing an item online include the ability to track your dispute 24/7 online and the ability to upload supporting documentation that will accompany your dispute.

What hours are phone-based customer service representatives available?

Equifax: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday

Experian: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in every U.S. time zone Monday through Friday

TransUnion: 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. EST Monday through Friday

Any tips to make sure consumers are most likely to get their question/problem resolved?

Equifax: Obtain a copy of your Equifax credit report, and be prepared to provide your report confirmation number that can be found atop the report.  The report confirmation number is a unique reference identifier assigned to each copy of your Equifax credit file you obtain. The confirmation number allows our customer service center to more easily access your credit file and helps expedite handling any online dispute.

Experian: The most important thing is that a consumer have their most current Experian credit report.

TransUnion: Though not required, it is helpful for consumers have a copy of their report in front of them when speaking to a customer service representative so they can be addressing or looking at the same information together. Consumers can get a free copy of their report every 12 months from Annualcreditreport.com.

What is the best phone number to call?

Equifax: To speak with an agent via telephone regarding your product related concerns, please log into your Equifax Member Center to ensure that you are routed to the correct department that can help you to address your concerns. To speak with an agent regarding credit report updates, corrections or dispute-related concerns, please review your most recent credit report. It will have a confirmation number, and a telephone number that will enable you to speak with an agent who can update, or request corrections on your credit report.

Experian: 888-397-3742

TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800

Languages spoken by your customer service reps?

Equifax: English and Spanish

Experian: English and Spanish

TransUnion: English and Spanish

What happens after the consumer calls?

Equifax: It depends on the nature of the call. For example, results of dispute investigations (e.g. file updated, account deleted) are mailed to you.

Experian:  This really depends on the nature of the consumer’s call. Our (representatives) outline the steps a consumer needs to take as well as what they can expect.

TransUnion: Once a dispute is opened, the consumer will be notified of the outcome within 30 days.

Any other tips for consumers?

Equifax: More information about contacting Equifax can be found at Equifax.com.

Experian:  Experian.com/help is a great resource to figure out the steps they need to take!

TransUnion: TransUnion has an entire educational section on its website to assist consumers in filing a credit dispute.

Where’s My Score?

Experian says that a common question consumers have after getting their credit reports is, “Where’s my credit score?” Credit scores aren’t automatically provided with credit reports, unless you have purchased a score or a monitoring product that includes a score.

And while a credit score is calculated using information from your credit report, it’s a separate product. So to understand your score you’ll need tools like those provided with Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card that will explain the main factors affecting your score and what you can do about them.

More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:

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  • Mary Frances Prophete

    Hello I just had my credit check and I was very disappointed first off you guys reported that I have depth that I owe and the only depth I owe is maybe a hospital bill because Medicaid was supposed to pay that bill other then that I don’t owe any one I have never had a credit card and even till this day when ever I borrow money I pay It back so you have made an error that needs to be corrected sincerely MFP

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      It sounds as if you’re referring to the Credit Report Card, which is based on information from Experian, one of the three major credit reporting agencies. (And the debt you’re seeing reported may well have alerted you to an error in your credit reports.)

      You can order a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus once a year. Credit scores are based on the information in those reports. If information in your credit report is wrong, you can dispute it, and the information can be corrected. Here are a couple of resources that may be useful to you:

      How Do I Get My Free Annual Credit Report?
      How to Dispute an Error on Your Credit Report

      • cory

        I really need help with my credit, I have bills affecting me that I’m not responsible for such as medical bills.please help.

        • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

          Cory – Can you please elaborate what you mean by medical bills you’re not responsible for affecting your credit? You may want to post a more detailed question on this page which talks about medical debts: Four Medical Bill Myths That Can Cost You Dearly

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    All three credit bureaus have indicated they have customer service representatives who speak Spanish. The numbers are in the story above. Is there a problem?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Sent you an email about this..

    • Jessica Velazquez

      Just read it:) Thanks for your time and help!

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    We hope we can make it easier for you! Have you obtained your free credit score yet to see where you stand? (You’ll find it on the home page of Credit.com.)

  • Roy Goodwin

    There is a total fictitious address on my credit report

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      I would definitely suggest you dispute it. It could be an indication of identity theft.

  • Pires

    I want to speak to a real live Credit Bureau Customer service agent. Please provide me a number that actually connects me to a live person.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      We provided contact information in the article. Did those numbers not work for you? Not trying to give you the run around but we aren’t a credit reporting agency.

  • kim

    I want to fix my credit but I’m not sure how I would like to speak to a real person

  • Lili

    I have a credit card account that is from 2013 still reporting a balance (but has been charged off & closed), and then I have that same account reporting in collections with a collections company. When my credit is pulled, it looks like I have 2 seperate accounts reporting and looks like I’m in more debt than I actually am! How can I go about getting the information corrected, and who do I pay? Or do I pay who ever is recently in charge of the debt, and both accounts will show paid? Please help me understand this!

    I do understand that the original account will be on my report even if it has been charged off/closed. But from what I understand after doing my research, it should not being reporting a balance if it has been charged off/closed/sold to a collections company.

  • William paul

    My wife has a jc penny card and I am on the account and I want it on the credit report and jc penny told me I had to ask u guys. How do I that

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      William —
      We’re not sure there is a way to ensure that a particular account is on your credit report. But JC Penney would make decisions about which credit bureau(s) to report to; we have no authority over them or the credit bureaus. Have you checked all three of your credit reports? Here’s how to do that: How Do I Get My Free Annual Credit Report?

  • DaVonta

    who do I call about a credit hold

  • Tracey Lamb

    Is there someone you can contact on the weekend if you think someone has stolen you social security number

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Tracey – we moderate comments on weekdays for the most part. Hope you were able to get in touch with the credit reporting agencies in the meantime.

  • Daniel knoll

    Hi my name is Daniel and I have 3 judgments that have been paid off and settled with note riled stamps and have been recorded in the court records. These are still on my credit report. How do I get them removed?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Paying off a judgment doesn’t remove it from your reports. It can stay for seven years from the date it was entered by the court.

  • Nikki

    I applied for a personal loan and it was declined so I’m having my mom co-sign. Will it hit my credit score again? Should I wait so it doesn’t?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Probably not. But be aware that the loan could affect your mother’s credit if you are late with a payment, and it could leave her with access to less credit if she should need it. (You might consider sharing with her the password to account website or having statements sent to her home so that she can be assured you are paying as agreed.) Paying on time should help your score.

  • pascual

    Lately my credit score has been dropping and today it dropped 30 points and am trying to find a solution as to why the only difference I made lately is I got a credit card at Lowe’s to buy things for the house but that’s it nothing else has changed

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      Pascual —
      Are you checking your score daily?? (Usually monthly is enough and you really don’t need to obsess about every change.) But if the direction is down, obviously there is cause for concern. A free credit score from Credit.com includes an explanation of the factors that impact your credit score and personalized advice for improving.

  • Sean

    Experian has no record of my current auto loan as of today and they did about a month ago. My credit score dropped over. 100 points because of this please help somebody!

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      We suggest talking with the credit bureau to see what happened. The story above has contact information.

  • http://blog.credit.com/ Kali Geldis

    Hi tank — A creditor can close an account if your credit score has dropped when they do an account review. Also, some retail credit cards will close if there is no activity on the account for a certain period of time. You can always call the retailers and ask them to reconsider closing the accounts, as they will have a negative impact on your credit scores over time.

  • Adam

    I looked at my credit score at CreditKarma and it was lower than I thought. It showed that my balance was running too high and I was using 80% of my credit limit. I paid the credit card balance to zero and about a month later, they still haven’t updated my score. The payment has gone through, and has been cleared through our bank and the credit card company (Chase). Is there a way to contact the credit bureau to update their info and our score reflects the payment?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Credit scores often come with an explanation of the main factors driving your score. To see exactly what’s going into your score, you’d need to see the credit report it is based on. You can get a free annual credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies. Here’s how: https://www.credit.com/credit-reports/free-annual-credit-report/

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Credit scores often come with an explanation of the main factors driving your score. To see exactly what’s going into your score, you’d need to see the credit report it is based on. You can get a free annual credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies. Here’s how: https://www.credit.com/credit-reports/free-annual-credit-report/

  • Kim

    Hello. My credit score is nothing. I have been making my car payments on time for almost 3 yrs now and I have nothing. My finance Co told me when they tried to report my payments they were told there were to many issues with my social and to many last names. I have tried to call the 3 credit agencies and they are all just a recording. How do i contact the credit bureau so I can find out what is going on? Please help.

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      You can pull your credit reports from each bureau for free each year by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. That’s a good place to start. You can find more information here:

      https://www.credit.com/identity-theft-protection/#steps-to-take-if-its-been-stolen

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

      • Kim

        When I try to get my credit report it says I have no score. I need to know how do i go about talking to someone in person. When I call the numbers I get recordings with no way to talk to someone.

  • One21

    I’m currently going through a divorce and I have court orders that say my ex wife is responsible for half the debts we accumulated while we were married. unfortunately the debts are under my name and because she has not made any payments toward the balance on these accounts, my credit is being effected. Is there something i can do to change these debts and have them be under her name and her credit report?

    • Jeanine Skowronski

      You can try disputing them by supplying your divorce decree. Beyond that, you may want to consult with your divorce attorney about your best recourse.

      Thanks,

      Jeanine

      • One21

        thanks, I’m currently speaking with each of the credit bereaus and handling this situation. this can be a very tedious process but it has to be done.
        thanks for your help

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