How and When to Talk to a Credit Bureau

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Your credit score can have a huge impact on your life—for better or worse. In many ways, the three major credit bureaus are the keepers of your credit score. They’re responsible for maintaining credit reports, which means you may need to contact them about the information included on yours. While this may seem daunting, it’s really not complicated.

Read on to learn about when to contact a credit bureau and how to do it. Contact information and tips have been provided for each of the three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—to make it as simple as possible.

When to Contact a Credit Bureau

Anytime you notice inaccuracies on your credit report, you should immediately contact the credit bureau. This can include misspelled names, incorrect address information, unreported salary changes or erroneous employment information.

Here are some other reasons why you might need to contact a credit bureau:

  • There are credit cards, collections missed payments or anything else on your report that you don’t recognize.
  • You’re in credit disputes with your credit card issuer or financial institution. You can address this with the credit bureaus, which are required to investigate.

For help talking to the credit bureaus and starting a credit repair plan, you can work with a professional credit repair agency. They offer credit monitoring, credit repair services and text alerts so you don’t miss a thing.

Get Credit Repair Help
  • You want to get a hard inquiry removed from your history, especially if it’s an unauthorized inquiry.
  • An account is missing from your report.
  • You want to remove inaccurate or unfair collection accounts from your report. Keep in mind that if you can’t dispute them successfully, these accounts can stay on your account for a number of years.
  • You want to request a free annual credit report.
  • You want to put a temporary freeze or lock on your credit file.
  • You notice any sign of fraud on your credit report.

Information to Gather before You Call

You want to have the right information on hand when you call a credit bureau. Prepare yourself by collecting the following information in advance, just in case:

  • Your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth
  • A copy of your annual credit report
  • Evidence of the inaccuracies or errors, if relevant
  • Personal financial information, such as your mortgage information, depending on the reported issue
  • Any other supporting documentation

Credit Bureau Contact Information

Because there are so many potential reasons to contact a credit bureau—general inquiries, disputes and credit freezes, for example—there are many different phone numbers and online contact forms to wade through. If you call the wrong number, you may simply be told they cannot help you and directed to call a different number, wasting precious time and energy.

To help you avoid that frustration, we’ve gathered several ways you can contact the credit bureaus for common inquiries here.

Equifax Phone Numbers

Reason to Contact

Phone Number

Availability

General inquiries

866-640-2273

 

Service cancellation

866-243-8181

8 a.m. to 3 a.m. (ET)
7 days a week

Request a copy of your credit report

866-349-5191

8 a.m. to midnight (ET)
7 days a week

Fraud alert

800-525-6285

8 a.m. to midnight (ET)
7 days a week

Credit dispute

866-349-5191

8 a.m. to midnight (ET)
7 days a week

Credit freeze

888-298-0045

8 a.m. to midnight (ET)
7 days a week

2017 data breach

888-548-7878

8 a.m. to midnight (ET)
7 days a week

Opt out of mailing lists

888-567-8688

 

 

If you don’t like talking on the phone, Equifax also offers live chat support. You can chat with a member of their customer support team between 8 a.m. and midnight (ET), Monday through Friday.


TransUnion Phone Numbers

Reason to Contact

Phone Number

Availability

General inquiries

833-395-6938

8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (ET)
Monday–Friday

Credit dispute

833-395-6941

8 a.m to 11:00 p.m. (ET)

Monday–Friday

Credit freeze

888-909-8872

8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (ET)

Fraud alert

800-680-7289

8 a.m.to 11 p.m. (ET)

Free annual report

877-322-8228

 

Haven’t received your report

800-888-4213
800-916-8800 (to speak to a representative)

 

Manage your subscription

833-806-1626

8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (ET)

Monday–Friday

 

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET)
Saturday–Sunday

Technical support

833-806-1626

8 a.m. to 9 pm. (ET)

Monday–Friday

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET)
Saturday–Sunday


Experian Phone Numbers

Reason to Contact

 Phone Number

Availability

Experian membership

479-343-6239

6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (PT)
Monday–Friday

8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PT)
Saturday–Sunday

Free credit report

888-397-3742

 

Credit dispute

866-200-6020

 

Fraud alert

888-397-3742

 

Credit freeze

888-397-3742

 

Cancel membership

479-343-6239

 

ProtectMyID subscription

866-960-6943

 

Opt out of prescreened offers

888-567-8688

 


Alternatives to Calling Credit Bureaus

Not all experts think calling a credit bureau is the best approach. Don Petersen, an attorney at Howard Lewis & Peterson, PC, in Utah, recommends calling a bureau for only basic administrative questions—such as updating an address or asking if a recent data breach has affected you.

For most other issues, Petersen advises his clients to write to credit bureaus or submit disputes online. This provides you with an official record of your request.

If you do prefer to call a credit bureau, take notes during the call and follow up in writing after the telephone conversation. In your follow-up letter, you should include the name of the representative you spoke with as well as details of what transpired in your conversation.

Send important requests—especially disputes—through certified mail. This allows you to track the letter and ensure that the credit bureau responds in a timely manner. Never send original copies of documents, as the bureaus may not return anything you send.

Equifax Mailing Addresses

Reason for Contact

Address

Credit dispute

Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374-0256

Request a copy of your credit report

Equifax Disclosure Department
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Fraud alert

Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 105069
Atlanta, GA 30348-5069

Credit freeze

Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 105788
Atlanta, GA 30348-5788


TransUnion Mailing Addresses

Reason to Contact

Address

Credit freeze

TransUnion
P.O. Box 160
Woodlyn, PA 19094

Credit dispute

TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016-2000

Fraud alert

TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016

Request credit report

TransUnion LLC
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19016


Experian Mailing Addresses

Reason to Contact

Address

Credit dispute

Experian Dispute Department
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013

Credit freeze

Experian Security Freeze
P.O. Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013

Privacy

Chief Privacy Officer
Compliance Department
Experian
475 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Report a relative’s death

Experian
P.O. Box 9701
Allen, TX 75013


Track Your Credit

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to obtain a free copy of all three reports once each year. These free reports can be accessed on the government-mandated site operated by the big three credit bureaus, AnnualCreditReport.com.

You can also sign up for the free credit report card offered by Credit.com, which provides a snapshot of your credit as well as the ability to dig deeper into the elements that affect your credit score. When you sign up, you’ll also get regular emails with tips and tricks for keeping your credit healthy.

Sign Up Now

The post How and When to Talk to a Credit Bureau appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

How to Deal with Debt Collectors When You Can’t Pay

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If you’ve fallen behind on your bills and are dealing with debt, don’t be surprised if you start hearing from debt collectors. Those collectors have a job—to get as much money out of you as they can. So, they’re probably not going share things that might make it easier for you to fight back or get out of paying.

Go to Guide
Privacy Policy

But don’t worry—you don’t have to do this on your own. If you’re wondering how to deal with debt collectors when you can’t pay, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got a few tips and tricks debt collectors would never share.

1. First, Know That Debt Collectors Aren’t Quite as Fearsome as They Pretend

Debt collectors are trained to use scary and forceful language to coerce someone into making an immediate payment. If you arrange to pay the first time they talk to you, it’s less likely you’ll ask for verification of the debt or take other action that might slow down the collection effort.

Here’s an example of one of their tactics: collectors might threaten to mark you as “refusal to pay” in their files. They might say this if you say you can’t pay the bill—even if you would like to.

It might sound bad, but it’s actually meaningless. You’re alreadynot paying the bill. That’s why a collection agency is contacting you. Marking your refusal to pay doesn’t actually change the situation or make it worse for you.

2. Settlements Are Rarely a One-Time Deal

Collection agents want to get your money while they’re on the phone with you. They might actually get a bonus for doing so. When an individual collection agent says that a settlement offer is a one-time deal or won’t be available after a certain amount of time, that’s usually not the case.

The older a debt is, the less likely someone is to collect it. Which means older debts might even be easier to negotiate.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid paying if you can just bring the total down. That could lead to dealing with lawsuits and other issues. But it does mean you don’t have to jump just because the collector says to.

3. You Can Demand That Collectors Stop Calling You at Work

Do you have collectors calling you at your job? You can tell them to stop. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act makes it veryclear. Once you tell a debt collector your employer doesn’t allow you to talk with them while you’re at work, they must stop calling you there.

4. Your Debt May Be Too Old to Collect

Your debt might be past the statute of limitations. However, a debt collector either might not know that or not want you to know that. It’s up to you to be aware of your own debts and double check how old they are.

If you discover that your debt is beyond the statute of limitations for the state where you borrowed it, then you know the collector cannot successfully sue you. But you do have to be careful not to accidentally reset the clock on your debt.

In most states, the statute of limitations runs three to 10 years from the date you last made a payment. If you make a payment because you feel pressured by a collector, you reset the clock. The collector might have another decade for collection.

It’s also important to realize that a collector can continue to try to collect the debt from you without suing you. Old debt might also still be dragging down your credit score.

5. Debt Collectors Are Under Pressure to Collect

Collectors have to meet performance requirements at their jobs like everybody else. This means they might need to collect a certain amount each month or close a certain number of accounts every quarter.

That means you might have better bargaining power at the end of the month. For example, if you owe $3,000 and can only pay $1,000, the collector probably won’t be okay with taking that lesser amount. But if you reach out at the end of the month, and the collector needs $900 for their monthly quota, they might be more willing to settle on your $1,000 payment.

In the meantime, by not paying immediately, you buy time to request verification of a debt. You might even have time to come up with more money to be able to cover the debt.

6. If They Really Want to Play Hardball, They Will Have to Sue You

If you owe unsecured debt such as credit card debt, collectors must typically sue you before they can go after your property, including money in your bank accounts, or try to garnish your wages. But threatening to take such actions before they have sued you and won a judgment may be illegal. Even threatening to sue you to collect a debt may be illegal if the collector has no intention of doing so.

Keep a notebook and write down each time a debt collector contacts you and what they say. You may be able to report them to the Consumer Financial Protect Bureau if they aren’t following the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

7. Paying Off This Debt Won’t Help Your Credit Ratings

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a collection account will remain on your credit reports for seven years from the date you fell behind with the original creditor. Collectors may make it sound like paying off collections accounts will improve your credit by telling you that they will update your credit report to “paid in full” status. But this probably won’t help your credit score. Collection accounts are negative, regardless of whether they are paid or not, though some newer credit scoring models do not factor in paid collections.

On the other hand, paying the collection account may stop the creditor or collector from suing you. That lets you avoid a judgment on your credit report that could hurt your credit score even more. Additionally, some mortgage lenders may require you to pay or settle collection accounts before giving you a loan.

Working Toward Better Credit

Whether you’re being hounded by collectors for debt that isn’t even yours or you’re ready to take a stand and take back control of your credit, credit repair is an option. You can manage the process on your own or work with a professional service such as Lexington Law or CreditRepair.com. These firms help you remove inaccurate information from your reports and provide some guidance on how to improve your credit score over time.

Disclosure: Credit.com and CreditRepair.com are both owned by the same company, Progrexion Holdings Inc. John C Heath, Attorney at Law, PC, d/b/a Lexington Law Firm is an independent law firm that uses Progrexion as a provider of business and administrative services.

The post How to Deal with Debt Collectors When You Can’t Pay appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com