Equifax is one of three major U.S. credit reporting bureaus, each of which is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Active credit monitoring enables a consumer to identify and resolve trade lines that appear or remain on their credit report outside the FCRA's permissible reporting parameters. Not every consumer will be impacted by an erroneous or outdated credit item over the course of their financial lifetime, but reporting errors are not uncommon and can be damaging to one's ability to borrow if left unresolved. Erroneously reported information includes, for example, fraudulently obtained judgments, falsified public records, or unreported creditor payments.
While a consumer may, for personal reasons, wish to have a non-negative item removed from their credit report, positive information may, by law, remain on a report indefinitely. There is a statutory limit, however, to how long an agency may report a negative—or potentially negative—trade line. Common limits include:
2 years: Credit history requests (i.e., credit checks)
7 years: Missed payments; Most public record items, such as court judgments; Chapter 13 bankruptcy
10 years: Paid closed accounts; Chapters 7, 11 and 12 bankruptcies
When a consumer discovers an erroneous or outdated trade line on their Equifax credit report, they can notify Equifax and request removal or correction of the trade line by filing an official dispute. A dispute may be filed online or by mailing a letter detailing the nature of the dispute and containing the following information: full name, date of birth, tax ID (SSN or ITIN), phone number, and current address. Depending on the nature of the dispute, a consumer may also need to include documentation, such as a valid ID, proof of payment, or other evidence of canceled or resolved debt. The following sample letter includes the Equifax dispute mailing address:
Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
Date: January 1, 2019
Re: Credit Report Dispute
Name: John Doe
Social Security Number: XXX-XX-XXXX
Date of Birth: 1/2/1900
Current Mailing Address: 123 Main Street, Faralon CA 94XXX
Previous Mailing Address (if applicable): 456 Old Street, Faralon CA 94XXX
The following Equifax report trade line is hereby disputed:
Trade Line Acct. No. 4465420164228850 – Collection Account by WELLS FARGO BANK N.A.; $10,000: This collection report is more than seven years old. The last payment was made on or before August 31, 2007. As such, it is improperly reported and must be removed.
John Doe, Consumer
Upon receiving a consumer dispute, Equifax will conduct an investigation and render a decision on the matter within 30 days. If the dispute involves a trade line based on public records, such as a bankruptcy or court judgment, Equifax will review the public record, as well as any information provided by the consumer. More commonly, however, disputes involve credit accounts. In such cases, Equifax will notify the creditor of the fact and nature of the dispute and invite the creditor to submit an objection, along with supporting information, if there is a basis for doing so.
Once complete, Equifax will notify the consumer of the results of their investigation, as well as the resolution of the disputed matter. If Equifax concludes a dispute has merit and that a trade line update is warranted, the update will be made upon closure of the dispute. A consumer may also check the status and outcome of a dispute online at any time.