Experian is one of three major U.S. credit reporting bureaus, each of which is regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In addition to other consumer credit fairness and privacy provisions, the FCRA regulates the types of credit-related financial information (or “trade lines”) a reporting agency like Experian can use to calculate a consumer’s credit score or disclose in a consumer’s credit report.
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reporting parameters, including trade lines that are erroneously reported (e.g., due to false or fraudulent claims) or outdated (e.g., a missed payment that is more than 7 years old). While the FCRA places a statutory limit on how long an agency may report a negative—or potentially negative—trade line, such outdated items commonly remain on more credit agency reports simply due to oversight. Depending on the type of trade line, the statutory reporting limit is either 2 years (credit history requests), 7 years (missed payments; most public record items, such as court judgments; chapter 13 bankruptcy), or 10 years (paid closed accounts; chapters 7, 11 and 12 bankruptcies).
When a consumer discovers erroneous or outdated information on their Experian credit report, they can notify Experian and request removal or correction of the trade line by filing an official dispute.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. The following sample letter includes the Experian dispute mailing address:
Experian’s National Consumer Assistance Center
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
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 Experian report trade line is hereby disputed:
Trade Line Reference # 55555555 – Bankruptcy filed 11/10/2005: This Chapter 7 bankruptcy was filed more than 10 years ago. A true and correct copy of the bankruptcy filing is included herewith for reference. As such, this item is outdated and must be removed.
John Doe, Consumer
Upon receiving a consumer dispute, Experian conducts an investigation and renders a decision on the matter within 30 days (21 days for Maine residents). During an investigation, Experian contacts the source of the disputed information (e.g., the creditor) by phone, mail, or via an automated verification system. The source is asked to either verify or refute the information provided in the consumer’s dispute.
Once complete, Experian notifies the consumer of the results of their investigation, as well as the resolution of the disputed matter. If the source of the disputed information verifies or objects to the disputed matter, Experian will relay that response to the consumer. If Experian concludes a dispute has merit and that a trade line update is warranted, the update will be made upon closure of the dispute. If the source fails to respond to Experian’s verification request within the stated time, Experian will resolve the dispute in the consumer’s favor and update the disputed item as requested.