Home > Credit Score > Thinking of Freezing Your Credit? Learn How and When to Talk to a Credit Bureau

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Calling a credit bureau can be daunting. First, you have to hunt down the credit bureau’s contact information, then you have to make it through the dreaded automated customer service purgatory to reach an actual person—if it’s even possible to get a live person at all.

“A lot of people are afraid to call credit bureaus because they don’t want to get bogged down in bureaucracy or be on hold for hours,” says Zara Mohidin, co-founder of Fig Loans.

In addition, there’s often confusion about what answers credit bureaus can provide and when it’s important to call a bureau.

To help you wade through all of the uncertainty, we asked finance industry and credit experts to provide some insight on these topics.

Contact Information: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian

To begin with, it’s important to understand that there are three major credit bureaus, and each is required by law to provide consumers with a toll-free number that’s staffed during regular business hours. The phone numbers for each of the credit bureaus are below:

When to Call a Credit Bureau

It’s a good idea to contact a credit bureau whenever you notice any administrative inaccuracies on your credit report, such as misspelled names, incorrect address information, or erroneous employment information.

Further, if there are credit cards, collections, missed payments, or anything else on your report that you don’t recognize, contacting the credit bureaus is critical.

“Always call the bureaus if you notice a sign of fraud on your credit report,” urges Mohidin, who says one in four consumers have an error on their report that could be pulling their credit score down. “And getting your identifying information correct is important so that you are rewarded for on-time credit payments.”

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus must investigate any items you dispute and correct the information if it cannot be verified.

“If you disagree with the results of a credit bureau’s investigation, you can ask the bureau to include a consumer statement (to that effect) in your file and your future reports,” explains Freddie Huynh, vice president of credit risk analytics at Freedom Financial Network. These statements allow you to offer extra explanation, such as why you missed a payment.

Additional Reasons to Call

Keep in mind that correcting inaccuracies with one of the bureaus does not mean it will automatically be corrected by the others. It’s important to review the individual reports of all three credit agencies.

Huynh, who was previously the lead data scientist at FICO, stresses that though information is largely similar across all the credit reporting agencies, there can be variations between the reports.

In addition, when disputing something on your report, the burden of proof is on you, says Greg Oray, president of Oray King Wealth Advisors.

“Gather any documents that may help your case and have them available,” says Oray. “If you’re having trouble working with a representative or the reporting bureau to resolve your case, consider hiring a legal service that specializes in these matters.”

If you’d like to freeze your credit, you’ll have no choice but to speak to a credit bureau.

How to Freeze Your Credit

Understanding what it means to freeze your credit is critical, particularly in light of the recent Equifax security breach that exposed the personal information of millions of consumers. 

A credit freeze, also called a credit lock, is a tool that restricts access to your credit report. Taking this step makes it far more challenging for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

“Placing a credit freeze is similar to putting your credit cards in a bowl of water in the freezer—no one can use the credit until you ‘thaw’ it,” explains Andrew Housser, CEO of Freedom Financial Network. “With a credit freeze, creditors cannot see your credit history. If a scammer tries to open credit in your name, the creditor is unlikely to issue credit without knowing the history attached to your name and Social Security number.”

However, it’s important to note that freezing credit requires contacting each of the three credit bureaus separately.

Freezing Credit with Equifax

Equifax provides detailed instructions about how to place, temporarily lift, or entirely remove a freeze on its site.

Consumers may also request a freeze in writing or over the phone. You can request a security freeze by calling 1-800-685-1111 (NY residents call 1-800-349-9960) or submit your request in writing to the following address:

Equifax Security Freeze
PO Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348

Putting a freeze on your account, or lifting one, requires some personal information, including your Social Security number, address, and more.

It’s also important to note that as part of initiating an Equifax freeze, you will be provided with a PIN during the process. This PIN will not be emailed to you, so make sure you write it down.

Freezing Credit with TransUnion

You can freeze your credit with TransUnion via its website. TransUnion offers two different services on this front—locking your credit and freezing your credit.

Locking your credit via TransUnion is a process controlled by you, and there is no fee. You have instant, independent control over who accesses your credit information. This approach also means you have online, real-time ability to lock and unlock your account as often as you want.

Freezing your credit file with TransUnion means the credit agency controls who has access to your information. There are fees associated with both freezing and unfreezing your credit with TransUnion. In addition, there is a waiting period for a freeze to be either placed or lifted via this approach.

Freezing Credit with Experian

Experian provides an online form to initiate a credit freeze on its website. You can also freeze your credit by calling Experian at 1-888-397-3742 or sending certified or overnight mail to this address:

Experian Security Freeze
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

While this bureau doesn’t charge victims of identity theft who’d like to initiate a freeze, there are fees for others seeking to take this step with their credit. The fees vary by state of residence and range from about $3 to $10.

What You Need to Know about Credit Freezes

When initiating a freeze, keep in mind that lenders need credit reports to determine if you’re eligible for credit. After your credit is frozen, no one can pull your credit report. That means it won’t be possible to get approved for a loan or credit card in your name.

Credit freezes, however, do not affect your overall credit score in any way and they will not prevent you from accessing an annual credit report.

While a credit freeze can keep identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name, it does not prevent thieves from using your existing accounts. So it’s important to keep monitoring your credit and accounts.

 The Downsides to Calling Credit Bureaus

Not all experts think calling a credit bureau is the best approach. Don Petersen, an attorney, recommends calling a bureau for only basic administrative questions—such as updating an address or asking if you’re affected by a recent data breach.

For most other issues, Petersen advises his clients to write to credit bureaus or submit disputes online.

“The consumer will not have a record of what was said when they called,” explains Petersen. “Most consumers struggle to understand the system and would be much better served by taking the time to memorialize their dispute in writing and, obviously, save a copy of their letter.”

If you do prefer to call a credit bureau to get to the bottom of a question or concern more quickly, Petersen urges consumers to follow up in writing after the telephone conversation. Include the name of the representative you spoke with in the letter as well as details of what transpired in your conversation.

And finally, send the letter via certified mail with a return receipt requested, Petersen instructs.

“Call with very simple questions,” Petersen says. “But if you’re trying to initiate a dispute, it’s best to do it in writing so that you have a record.”

Keep an Eye on Your Credit

Every now and then, pull your credit report and review it carefully—you can obtain your free credit report at Credit.com. Look for any inaccuracies or other issues in the report, and if you spot something unusual, make a few calls to the credit bureaus. Always investigate suspicious activity on your credit report, and if you’re worried about identity theft, mitigate the issue with a well-placed credit freeze.

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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

  • Jeanine Skowronski

    Your credit could down as a result of all those lost credit limits. You can find more info here:

    https://www.credit.com/credit-scores/does-closing-credit-card-account-affect-credit-score/

  • Tricia

    My husband and I are in the process of buying a home. In looking at my credit report provided by my loan officer I have found two derogatory accounts that definitively do not belong to me. After research, and contacting both collection agencies, it’s been discovered that multiple names were merged to my credit report- one name has a social security number only one digit off from mine, and has a completely different birthday. (Info reported by experian has all the issues) While these derogatory accounts (and two inquiries I did not do) have dropped my score below 700, they have not effected our home approval. My loan officer is saying to wait to have the incorrect information removed until after closing due to concerns of any dispute causing problems with the loan. I feel like it’s such an obvious mistake- experian should just be able to remove the accounts. They are not mine. What do you recommend?

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