For most of us, working hard to achieve and maintain a good credit score is an inescapable part of modern life. Checking the credit reports of potential employees (with their permission) is an established practice for businesses. In a survey conducted in 2012, 1 in 7 respondents said they’d been denied a job because of a blemished credit history. Additionally, 1 in 8 respondents said that their poor credit score was due to “errors” in their report. With this in mind, it’s important to check your credit report regularly and dispute any inaccurate information straight away.
Why File a Dispute with TransUnion
Anyone who pays tax in the US is entitled to a free credit report from each of the three main credit reporting agencies (CRAs) each year. Make sure you stay current with what’s on your credit reports, as doing so is one of the first ways to spot fraud. Credit fraud is when someone illegally uses your personal details to open accounts and accumulate debt that they’ve no intention of paying off. If this isn’t caught early, it could have serious repercussions for you.
Filing a dispute with any of the major CRAs is free if you do it yourself. Although many people do hire a company to do this for them, it’s in fact a simple, if somewhat time-consuming, process. Here, we’ll focus on how to file a dispute with TransUnion.
You may need to file a dispute for the following reasons:
- Incorrect personal information is displayed on your credit report (e.g., the wrong name, date of birth, or address).
This may indicate that the credit reporting agency has merged your report with someone else’s, meaning their debts could be showing up on your report.
- Account numbers don’t match your files.
This can be due to an admin error or a mix-up between accounts. Always make sure to double-check account numbers.
- Accounts appear that you don’t recognize.
This is a red flag for fraud and can mean that someone else is using your personal details to run up debt.
- Closed accounts appear as open.
This is usually because the account you’ve paid off hasn’t yet been updated. It typically takes 30 days for a closed account to be reflected on your report.
- An account you’re actively paying off appears in collections.
This can be because of data that still needs updating or an admin error.
Check Before Disputing
Sometimes reading your credit report might be the first indication you get of any issues with your credit. But before starting a dispute, make sure you thoroughly check any information you don’t recognize. For example, an account you think you’ve been paying off that appears in collections could be there because you’ve missed a notice from a creditor. This is easily done if you’re dealing with bills from multiple sources or have recently moved house.
How Reliable Is It to File a Dispute with TransUnion?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) stipulates that CRAs must respond to disputes from consumers within 30 days. If they do not, the disputed information must be removed from the report. Also, CRAs have to follow different regulations depending on which method you use to file your dispute. If you file your dispute by mail, the FCRA stipulates that the CRA must:
- Send the results of its investigation to you in writing.
- Forward a summary of a successful dispute to any creditors involved.
- Provide proof of its methods of verification.
Because dealing with disputes is standard for CRAs, filing a dispute is a reliable way to move forward with credit report issues.
What You Should Do If You Find Information on Your TransUnion Credit Report that Is Inaccurate
If you spot mistakes on your credit report, you should file a dispute with TransUnion within a week of receiving it. This will help TransUnion resolve the case as quickly as possible. You can file your dispute online, by mail, or by phone. For the reasons we’ve mentioned above, many people prefer to file a dispute by mail as they’re then protected by FCRA regulations. If you choose to use mail also, you’ll then have a paper trail to refer to.
To file a dispute via any method:
- Find your file identification number (in the top right corner of the report’s first page).
- Prepare copies of your driver’s license and proof of address.
- Compile documentation for each item you are disputing. This can include:
- Creditor’s name
- Account number
- Copies of statements confirming payment of the debt
- Copies of any correspondence you’ve had with the creditor.
How to Dispute TransUnion Reports Online
To file your dispute online, go to the TransUnion website dispute page and click “Start Dispute.” You’ll then be prompted to log in or create an account. Once you’ve accessed your account, you can dispute one piece of information at a time. You can add more disputes on the “Review” page before submitting.
For each dispute, you’ll need to upload supporting documents. You’ll also get to select the reason why you think the information is inaccurate and add comments.
You’ll then see a summary of the dispute you’re about to submit, which you should print for your own records. When done, click “submit” at the bottom of the page to submit your dispute. Be sure to complete your dispute in one go as the system will log you off if your screen is inactive for several minutes. At the time of writing, there was no feature to save an unfinished dispute in progress.
If you wish to dispute your social security number, date of birth, name, or address, you’ll need to do this via mail. TransUnion requires supporting documents on paper for these kinds of changes. You can, however, delete old phone numbers, addresses, or employers via the online portal.
You can also add a consumer statement to your report online. This is your opportunity to explain your financial situation in your own words. To do this:
- Log on to the dispute page on the TransUnion website.
- Find the “Manage My Consumer Statement” area and click “Manage My Statement.”
- Choose a pre-written text or write and edit your own.
- Review your statement update.
- Submit. Your updated statement will be added to your report within minutes.
If you’re not able to access your consumer statement online, you can also update it via phone or mail.
How Trustworthy Is It to File a Dispute with the TransUnion Website?
As mentioned above, filing disputes online does not give you the added protection you receive under FCRA regulations if you send a dispute by mail. You also won’t automatically create a paper trail (although you can print out any updates you make online). You can’t receive any proof of receipt when submitting information online, which may make it harder to prove when TransUnion received your dispute.
Although it can be more time-consuming initially, filing by mail can save you time and effort later if you have to prove the steps you took online.
How to Dispute TransUnion Reports by Mail
To file a dispute with TransUnion by mail, write a letter and send it to:
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
If you write your own letter, make sure you include the following information:
- Complete contact information for you, including your name, address, and telephone number.
- Your report confirmation number.
- A description of each mistake, including account numbers where accounts are involved.
- The reason you’re disputing each item.
- A clear request to TransUnion to rectify the mistakes.
- A copy of your credit report that shows the disputed items. Circle or highlight these. Make sure you include only copies and not originals.
Send your letter via certified mail and request a return receipt, so that you have proof that your letter was received by TransUnion.
Pros and Cons of Filing Online vs. by Mail
What to Do if Your Dispute Is Refused
If, despite your best efforts, TransUnion upholds the information you’ve tried to dispute, all is not lost. You can add a statement to your report (see above for detailed instructions) to explain your financial situation. To boost your credit rating, you can also look into how to repair your credit or consolidate your debt.
How Can Credit Repair Companies Help?
Credit repair companies, such as CreditSaint and Lexington Law, can help you to:
- Understand your credit report.
- Dispute mistaken items.
- Analyze your credit score.
- Intervene with creditors on your behalf.
- Recommend actions to boost your credit rating.
This can save you time and effort as well as give you peace of mind because a debt professional is advocating for you.
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How Can Debt Consolidation Help?
Debt consolidation is the process of selling all your existing debts to one company and then paying back the lump sum in installments. This can simplify things if you’re paying off debts to several different creditors. It’ll mean you have only one bill to pay each month and can track your progress more easily. You may also save money by lowering the overall interest you pay each month. Plus, debt consolidation can quickly boost your credit score by lowering your credit utilization ratio. This is your total amount of debt compared to the amount of credit available to you.
Lending Tree and AmOne are two companies that help you find the right debt consolidation service for you. They’ll offer you personalized recommendations based on your financial situation and check if you can get a lower annual percentage rate (APR).
How to Consolidate Debt With a Personal Loan
To prepare for debt consolidation, you’ll need to:
- Check your credit score
Most debt consolidation agencies will offer a free credit check as a starting point.
- Figure out how much you’ll need to borrow
To do this, simply add all your existing debts together.
- Work out your APR goal
To save money, you’ll need a lower APR than your existing ones.
- Compare lending options by prequalifying
Most lenders will estimate your APR, monthly payback rate, and loan amount without a hard credit check, so this won’t affect your credit score.
Once your loan is approved, you’ll receive a lump sum from your new lender, which you must use to pay off all your existing creditors immediately.
How to File with TransUnion FAQs
How do I start a dispute with TransUnion?
What happens when you dispute TransUnion?
Does disputing hurt your credit?