Credit bureaus are agencies responsible for compiling credit information for each individual. This information, which includes every detail of a person’s credit history, is then sold to lending institutions and other creditors for use in making lending decisions. The bureaus look at many details of your borrowing and spending behavior to create a comprehensive credit report and credit score just for you.
Information that credit bureaus may collect includes your:
- Number and age of credit accounts
- Bank account information
- Credit limits
- Revolving utilization
- Credit card payment history
- Rent payment history
- Missed or late bill payments
- Collections accounts
- Public records such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, etc.
They also know personal information such as your address, place of work, and social security number.
Today, there are three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Equifax was founded in 1899, Experian in 1996, and Transunion in 1968. Bureaus were created to help creditors make informed decisions about loan and credit account applications—before they were created, lenders had to use their best judgment and there was a lot more risk involved. Credit bureaus also make credit decisions fairer for consumers by removing subjectivity from the decision-making process and preventing discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, etc.
The information collected from credit bureaus is provided to credit issuers, but credit bureaus themselves do not play any role in deciding whether or not you should be approved for a loan or credit account. Credit bureaus are private companies operating independently of financial institutions simply to provide information, including your credit report and score, to potential creditors.
If you ever encounter issues with your credit report or need to update your account in any way, you will need to know how to get in touch with the credit bureaus. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it might seem. Fortunately, this article will offer helpful tips and phone numbers to call when you want to talk to a real person.
When Would You Need To Contact a Credit Bureau?
One of the main reasons a person might need to contact one or more credit bureaus is to report an issue on their credit report. There could be a small error on your report such as a spelling mistake or incorrect date or a much larger issue that could point to identity theft. For example, accounts showing up on your credit history that do not belong to you could be a red flag that someone has been using your name and information to open lines of credit. To correct an error, you will need to call whichever bureau’s report contains an error and might need to file a dispute.
Another common reason to get in touch with credit bureaus is to update your personal information. When a person gets married and wants to change their last name, for example, they need to update their account with all three credit bureaus and prove that their last name has been legally changed.
You can also call a credit bureau if you just have a question about your credit report. Looking over your report regularly is a good habit to get into and the best way to protect yourself from theft. Uncorrected issues on your report could prevent you from receiving loans in a timely manner or being approved for new lines of credit. You can get at least one free copy of your full credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus. Always take these when they are offered to you.
If you’ve ever tried to contact a credit bureau, you know how difficult it can be to get past the recordings to speak to a real representative. Here are the phone numbers to try when you want to bypass all the questions and get right down to business when contacting a credit bureau.
Speak to a Live Person at Equifax
People have had success reaching an Equifax representative more quickly over the phone in a couple of different ways. The best way is to call the number specifically dedicated to your issue. Equifax has many different lines.
If you already know exactly what you’re calling about, use that number from the table below before you use the general numbers. Otherwise, try both general numbers and you’re sure to reach a live person.
Equifax Phone Numbers
|888-202-4025 + ext. 6||General|
|866-349-5191||Request a copy of your credit report|
|866-640-2273||Help with Equifax account and products|
|866-349-5191||Credit Report Dispute|
Automated service line: 888-836-6351
|Place a fraud alert on your credit report|
|888-298-0045||To place, pause, or lift a security freeze from your credit report|
|888-748-7878||Questions about the 2017 Cybersecurity incident|
|888-567-8688||Remove your name from mailing lists|
Equifax customer service is generally available to take calls from 9 AM to 5 PM (EST) Monday through Friday. However, the automated service line dedicated to fraud alerts is available from 7:30 AM to 1:30 AM (EST) seven days a week. If you leave a message here, a representative will get back to you.
Equifax is also able to resolve some issues online. Log in to your Equifax account to file a dispute for something on your report, place or lift a security freeze, or place a fraud alert.
In 2017, Equifax experienced a massive data breach that resulted in the private records of millions of American, British, and Canadian users being leaked. Since then, Equifax makes information about the status of the resulting settlement available and will take any questions users might have about this incident.
Speak to a Live Person at Experian
Experian makes it easy to resolve many types of problems online and has an extensive FAQs section on their site, but sometimes you just want to talk to someone. Try these phone numbers when you need to talk to an Experian representative and don’t have all day to spend answering questions.
Experian Phone Numbers
|714-830-7000 + ext. 2||General|
|888-397-3742||Place a fraud alert on your credit report or receive identity theft guidance|
|479-343-6239||Question about Experian membership|
|888-397-3742||Request a copy of your credit report|
|714-830-7000||Question about credit report|
|888-567-8688||Opt out of prescreened offers|
Experian customer support is standing by from 7 AM to 7 PM (CT) Monday through Friday. You can also email support and get in touch with a representative that way.
If you’re calling to dispute, Experian will likely request that you have a copy of your credit report in front of you for reference. There will be a number listed on this report that you can call to initiate a dispute. If you’ve received a credit report within the last 30 days, you will probably need to pay for another report.
Speak to a Live Person at TransUnion
Like the other bureaus, TransUnion offers plenty of ways to start disputes and ask questions other than calling customer support. Getting help over the phone is not so easy; however. Below are the number(s) to call to get your question(s) answered by a representative over the phone..
TransUnion Phone Numbers
|888-909-8872||To place, pause, or lift a security freeze from your credit report|
|800-916-8800||Credit report dispute|
|800-680-7289||Place a fraud alert on your credit report|
TransUnion customer support phones are on from 8 AM to 11 PM (EST). The tech support lines are on from 8 AM to 9 PM (EST) Monday through Friday and 8 AM to 5 PM (EST) Saturday and Sunday.
This credit bureau also has social media accounts through Facebook and Twitter. The social media support team answers questions between 10 AM and 6 PM Monday through Friday (EST), so this could be a good way to avoid the phones altogether for less urgent concerns.
Again, make sure to have a copy of the credit report you are concerned about in front of you when calling to ask questions, dispute, or report fraud. During COVID-19, TransUnion is currently offering one free credit report per week to customers.
Depending on which bureau you need to report a problem with or have a question for, it might make more sense to resolve problems online through your account or via email than over the phone. However, each of the three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—has customer support that you can call with questions and concerns. And if you call the right number, your chances of speaking with an actual person are much higher.
Having an account with the bureau you’re contacting and file numbers for the exact reports you’re calling about is another great way to expedite the whole process.