5 Tips for Dealing with Duplicate Credit Reports

Even the big 3 make mistakes.

Whether you're trying to buy a home, start your own business, or open a credit card, everyone deals with credit reports at some point in their lives. Mistakes on your credit report are frustrating to deal with. One of the lesser known mistakes that can happen is when you have more than one credit report associated with your name and social security number. This can happen when your credit report contains a large amount of information. The two reports don't usually contain identical information, and you'll have two different credit scores because of it. The information on the reports are sometimes split by date, so one report can contain your earlier credit history (which might not be so great) and the second your more recent history. Regardless, these reports won't match the credit reports that banks receive from other credit reporting agencies, and a red flag will be thrown. Here are a few tips on what to do when you find you have more than one file with a credit reporting agency:

1. Get copies of your other credit reports.

First, you're going to want to verify that there is actually a mistake on your report with just a single agency. Pulling your other credit reports should yield a complete credit history with every event accounted for on your report. You're going to need these other reports as evidence that the third company's system has an error. You'll likely be mailing copies of these reports out, so be sure to get several copies, and always keep one for your records. 

2. Call first.

Sometimes fixing a mistake takes just a few keyboard strokes. Phone the credit reporting agency and explain the problem. If the first person you speak with doesn't have the authority to make the changes you need, ask to elevate the issue to their supervisor. Always be nice to phone reps--they didn't cause your problem, and a kind word can go a long way.

Experian:  (866) 200-6020

Transunion: (877) 322-8228

Equifax: (866) 349-5191

3. Send a written dispute.

4. Follow up with the agency.

5. If all else fails, contact an attorney.

Unfortunately, sometimes businesses only respond to legal action.