Trouble with Security Questions and Your Credit Report?

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Dear Experian,

I cannot access my credit report online. I was asked several security questions about accounts I did not recognize. I have the form to request the report via mail, but I suspect fraudulent activity. Is there any way I can access this report faster than waiting for it in the mail?


Dear SAL,

When you request a copy of your Experian credit report online, you will be asked a series of questions in order to verify your identity. The questions are derived from a number of sources, including the information contained in your credit report.

The security questions asked will vary each time you request your credit report. The questions are multiple choice and may ask you to recall information such as the name of a lender, the date an account was opened, the monthly payment on an account, or a previous address used to receive mail.

You must be able to answer the questions correctly for Experian to ensure that we are providing the report to the correct person, and not to an identity thief.

If you are unable to answer the questions sufficiently to verify your identity, Experian will ask you to provide documentation as proof of identity. While it may seem inconvenient, we do this to protect you.

You can upload the documents or submit them by mail to Experian, P.O. Box 9701, Allen, TX 75013. Be sure to include a note stating that you are submitting the documents as proof of identity and would like a copy of your credit report to be sent to you.

Reasons You May Not Recognize Security Question Information

There may be several reasons you could have difficulty answering the security questions. While the presence of fraudulent activity on your report is one possibility, there may be several other explanations that are unrelated to identity theft:

  • You may not recognize a lender's name. Sometimes, the company name you see listed on your credit card or account statement may be different from the name of the bank that finances the account and is shown on your credit report. Other times, the lender's name may be abbreviated on your credit report.
  • You may not be the primary owner of the account. You may be asked questions about an account for which you are a cosigner or joint account holder. If you are not the one who makes the payments, you may not be as familiar with account details, such as the monthly payment amount or the current balance on the account.
  • Your information may be linked with that of another individual. In rare cases, your credit information may become linked with the information of another individual whose identification information is similar to yours. This may happen when two family members share the same name and address or when two unrelated individuals have a similar name and Social Security number. The most common example is a father and son who share the same name, with the son having a generation identifier; for example, John Smith Jr. or John Smith III. Omitting the generation identifier can make it difficult to match the correct identification to the credit report, especially if the father and son share the same address.

If none of those reasons apply, there may be accounts opened in your name fraudulently. If you have been the victim of identity theft, you may not recognize accounts or personal information asked about in the security questions. If Experian is unable to sufficiently match your identifying information or response to the verification questions, you will need to provide documentation to verify your identity.

Ordering Your Credit Report by Phone or Mail

If you prefer not to order your credit report online, you can order your credit report over the phone by calling 888-EXPERIAN (888-397-3742). If the information provided matches the information on record, your credit report will be mailed to you. If you were unable to successfully complete the identification verification, you will need to provide the requested documentation or wait 30 days before requesting your report again.

Experian takes the privacy and the security of your information very seriously. For this reason, if your identity is unable to be verified over the phone, you will be provided instructions for mailing in your request, just as with an internet request. If you suspect that you have been the victim of fraud, you should include that information when sending in your written request.

Thanks for asking.
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist