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Topics addressed on September 30, 2009:
Getting your personal report is the first step in getting help
We receive so many letters that begin, “How can I…..,” and in most cases the problem is easily solved with one simple step. In almost all cases, the answer is that you need to first get a copy of your credit report directly from the credit reporting company.
There are several reasons for that. Foremost is that we must be able to correctly identify your credit report and the item or items that you want addressed. Many times consumers contact us but have a report they received from their creditor, such as a mortgage lender, or a report from another credit reporting company, or no report at all.
Your personal report includes a specific report number that ensures our representatives are looking at the same report that you are seeing. Looking at the same information improves service tremendously.
Often, information in reports from other sources is no longer on the Experian report or has been updated to a new status. Sometimes the item is located in one place on the report that you have received, but is in a different order on the Experian report. You can’t simply identify it as item three, for example. You also may have multiple accounts from the same lender, so it can’t be identified just by name.
By starting the process with a new report, you can initiate action instantly online, making it fast, easy and very precise for communicating your dispute directly to your lender. If Experian is unable to authenticate your identity for online service, you may have to use the voice response phone system or write for your report. But, once you have the report in hand, you can go online to continue the assistance process.
If your situation requires you to mail documents to Experian, all the contact information is available with the report you get directly from Experian. There also are many important explanations of your rights that may answer all of your questions.
And, if you find that you still need personal assistance, there is a phone number provided on the report that you can call, enter your report number, and press zero to speak with a customer service representative.
In most cases, getting a personal report is free, so cost is not an issue. You can get a free copy of each of your reports from each of the national credit reporting companies once every 12 months by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
You also can get a free report if you have adverse action taken, such as having a credit application declined. The lender will provide instructions to request your report from the credit reporting company that provided the credit history used in the decision.
Reports are free if you are unemployed and seeking employment or if you receive public assistance. Some state laws also provide for free reports.
After you have used your free reports, additional reports can be ordered for a small processing charge. Because fees vary by state, you will be advised of the correct payment amount based on your address when you request the report.
If you want frequent access you can subscribe to a credit monitoring service, such as Experian’s TripleAdvantage, which for a monthly fee provides unlimited access to your personal credit report.
So, please help us help you by starting with a new report. It’s really easy to get started. I promise!
Thanks for reading.
- The "Ask Experian" team