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I Am Having Trouble Answering the Online Security Questions. What Should I Do?

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?

– SAL

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.

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

If you are unable to answer the questions sufficiently to verify your identity, Experian will ask you to provide proof documentation. You can upload the documents or submit them by mail. While it seems inconvenient, we do so to protect you.

Example Security Questions

The security questions asked will vary each time a request is made to access a 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 should try and answer these questions to the best of your recollection.

Reasons You May Not Recognize Security Question Information

There may be more than one explanation if you are having trouble answering security questions because you do not recognize the account information. While the presence of fraudulent activity on your report is one possibility, there may be other explanations that are likely unrelated to identity theft:

  • Your account may be listed under a different name than the one you know it by. Sometimes, the company name you see listed on your credit card or account statement may be different than the name of the bank that finances the account and is shown on your credit report. Other times, the lender may report under an abbreviation of the full company name.
  • 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 that 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.
  • Accounts may have been opened in your name fraudulently. If you have been the victim of identity theft, there may be accounts or personal information contained in your credit report that you are not familiar with.

Ordering Your Credit Report by Phone or By Mail

If you would rather not mail in your request for a report, another option may be to order your credit report over the phone by calling 888-EXPERIAN. If the information provided matches the information on record, your credit report will be mailed to you.

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,
The “Ask Experian” Team

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