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While your personal information doesn't impact your credit scores, it is an important part of your credit report that you want to keep up to date and accurate. If you change your name, address, telephone number or other personal information, there are a few ways you can update your credit file.
Updating Personal Information on Your Credit Report
Your credit reports are based on information in credit bureaus' databases, much of which comes from the data that creditors send to the bureaus. When you apply for a credit card or loan, the creditor may review your credit report and also send the credit bureau information from your application, such as your name, Social Security number, address, telephone number and the name of your employer. Once your account is open, the creditor will likely send a monthly update with your latest payment status (late, on time, etc.), as well as your current account balance.
If you need to update your personal information on your credit report, you can generally do this by updating your information with your creditors. For example, if you move, you'll need to update your address to ensure the creditor can send you mail, including your monthly statements. The next time the creditor sends an update to the credit bureaus, it'll pass along your new address, which can then be added to the personal information section of your credit report.
The same process could work if you're trying to update other personal details, such as a new name. However, your phone number and employment generally only get reported to a bureau when you apply for a new account.
You can make a direct request to a credit bureau if you don't want to use a creditor as an intermediary or don't have any open accounts. To do so, you may also need to send proof of the change, such as copies of utility bills or bank statements with your new address.
When Is Inaccurate Information an Indicator of Fraud?
One reason you want to regularly review your credit reports for inaccurate information is to detect credit fraud—when someone uses your personal information to fraudulently open an account in your name.
For instance, if you see an open credit account or loan on your credit report that you never applied for, that could be a good indication that you're a victim of identity theft. If this happens, you should contact the creditor to report the account as fraudulent and have it closed.
You can also dispute the fraudulent account with the credit bureaus to have it removed from your credit reports, and add a fraud alert or freeze your reports to make it more difficult for someone to use your credit to open an account in the future.
However, inaccurate personal information isn't always an indication of fraud. Someone may apply for a credit card as Robert Smith and a loan as Rob Smith, and both variations of their name could appear on their credit report. Similarly, old personal information may remain on your credit report even if you change your name, address or phone number.
There could also be slight errors, such as a name or Social Security number that's slightly off. This could be the result of a typo rather than fraud. For security reasons, Experian does not list your actual Social Security number on your credit report. Only inaccurate ones are listed, which could alert you to a creditor misfiling your information or attempts at fraud. You may be able to clear up the error by double-checking with your creditors and making sure they have your correct name and Social Security number.
If asking a creditor to update inaccurate personal information doesn't work, you can also file a dispute with the credit bureau to correct inaccurate personal information.
How to File a Dispute
If you want to dispute something in your credit report, you can do so by mail, fax, phone or online. Under federal law, it's your right to dispute information you believe to be inaccurate in your credit reports for free.
When you use Experian's online Dispute Center, you can verify your identity, review your credit report and file a dispute all in one place. To file a dispute, select the information you'd like corrected and the reason it's incorrect, and then submit your dispute. (Before you proceed, however, understand that certain information, such as names and credit inquiries, can't be disputed using the online dispute center.)
Credit bureaus generally have 30 days to investigate your claim and send you a response. If they find the information you disputed is incorrect, they may either correct and update the information or delete it. To verify updated information as correct, you may need to provide additional proof backing up your claim.
Disputing Personal Information Won't Affect Your Credit Score
Your credit scores are based on information in your credit report. However, not every part of your credit report impacts your scores. For example, your name, address, phone number and employer information will have no impact on your credit scores. As a result, disputing this information won't affect your credit scores.
In contrast, if an account was fraudulently opened and has a past-due balance, it could be hurting your credit. Closing the account and disputing the information could help your credit when the negative account is removed from your credit history.
Check Your Credit Report Regularly
Before you update your credit report with new information, you'll want to review a recent copy of your report. You can get a free copy of your Experian credit report online, and you'll get alerts if there are any suspicious changes in your report that could be a sign of fraud. Keep in mind, if you recently updated your personal information with a creditor, it may take a few weeks for the update to be reported and appear on your credit report.