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What are Credit Bureaus and How to Contact Them?

Ali Zane is a credit repair expert, advocate, and author with nearly 20 years experience getting positive results for his credit repair clients.

In the United States, there are three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These bureaus are commonly used by millions of Americans to check their credit reports for free.

But, if you aren’t careful, credit bureaus can come with some hidden downsides that can impact financial situations negatively. Ready to arm yourself with the knowledge you need to deal with credit bureaus without the headache?

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Credit Bureaus: 101 – What are Credit Bureaus?

A credit bureau is a company that collects information about you and your financial history. It then sells this information to other companies, including banks, landlords, and car dealerships. Those other companies then decide whether or not they want to do business with you.

They each collect different types of data on people’s finances and histories – for example, one might have more detailed records of rental payments than another would. The bureaus also offer services to help people improve their credit scores by paying down debt or establishing an emergency fund. For these reasons, it’s important for consumers to be aware of what goes into their files and how it affects their financial well-being.

What are the benefits of credit bureaus?

Credit bureaus help consumers with something called a credit report—a record of someone’s history with borrowing money. And like we said consumers can get records of their credit reports for these bureaus for free.

Credit reports are used by lenders (banks, credit card companies, etc.) to determine whether someone is likely to pay back a loan. Good credit history might land you lower interest rates, better repayment terms, or even get you approved for a loan that you couldn’t access before.

READ MORE: What is a FICO Score and how does it impact my credit?

What are the Downsides of Credit Bureaus?

First, credit bureaus can be risky because sometimes they have errors on someone’s file that could result in missed payments or even being turned down for a loan. Secondly, if you pay to get your score or report from one credit bureau, that score is not the same as what other credit bureaus use.

Additionally, some companies look at this data to decide whether they will sell you an insurance policy or a cellphone plan – it’s a slippery slope because a person who has bad credit may find themselves unable to afford essentials like rent, or in some bad cases even food and water, because all of their money is going to pay for their insurance or phone bill.

Credit bureaus can even report debts that are in dispute. This is because their goal is to maintain accurate records of your credit history, so if you get behind on a bill they may choose to keep the information about the unpaid debt rather than leaving it blank.

It’s important to note that not all bureaus are alike. Some will allow you to dispute an error on your file, while others won’t. You also may need to provide different documentation or wait a different amount of time before the bureau will update the information. Alternatively, you can consider hiring a local credit repair company in your city to help you fix the incorrect negative items or increase your score quickly.

Should You Pay a Credit Bureau for a Premium Membership?

Paying for a premium membership to one of the major bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax) could give you access to credit reports that narrow down your results by including only what is relevant for your credit score. But again, you can get all of this information for free by requesting it directly from the bureaus or www.freecreditreport.com. You can also use sites like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame, but if you want to check your actual FICO scores you will need to pay for that too.

What if a Credit Bureau is Reporting a Bad Credit Score?

If you are finding that no one will give you a loan because of your credit score, there are some things you can do to improve it.

For example, if the problem is that you have outstanding debts on your file that are unpaid or unresolved then you could try negotiating with creditors. You could also try paying off those debts before applying for another loan.

You can also check with each credit bureau to make sure they are all reporting the same type of information. Sometimes it helps to get in touch with a representative from each bureau.

As a last resort, you can always dispute the information with each bureau (use this free sample dispute letter if you’re not sure how to write one). You have to prove to them that the credit score is incorrect because it does not match up with what other lenders are reporting. This process usually takes several weeks or months to complete, so be prepared for some back and forth.

How to Contact Credit Bureaus Directly:

If you need to contact any of the major credit bureaus, it is very easy to do so. The three main credit bureaus are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. You can use any one of these below for general questions or specific requests.

To contact TransUnion:

Fax: (410) 680-6513

Address: TransUnion, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

Phone Number: 1-800-916-8800

To contact Experian:

Fax: (888) 397-3742

Address: Experian, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013

Phone Number: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742)

You may use the website to get more information on how to contact them via email or a web form.

To contact Equifax:

Fax: (770) 488-7142

Address: Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Phone Number: 1-800-685-1111

You may use the website to get more information on how to contact them via email or a web form.

In Conclusion…

Contacting credit bureaus directly can be helpful if you are dealing with an identity theft situation. If you simply need information, it is highly recommended to deal with the individual credit reports yourself. By contacting the Credit Bureaus directly, you may also face delays in receiving your results. Each bureau must separately process your request.

If you have any further questions about how to work with the credit bureaus or what your legal rights may be as a consumer, please contact us directly for more information and to set up a free consultation.

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