How to Change Personal Information on Your Credit Report
Credit reports have enormous bearing on your life. The information in your reports will dictate your credit score, which influences what homes you can rent, what car you can buy and what type of loan you can secure.
It’s essential that these reports be accurate, which is why you are entitled to a free copy every 12 months from the three credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — via AnnualCreditReport.com.
Look at the personal information in your reports. Has your name, address or Social Security number changed? Is any of the personal information in the reports incorrect? If so, make sure to update the information.
What to know about changing personal information on your credit report:
- If you update your personal information with creditors, they will usually pass it on to the credit bureaus.
- To change your information directly with the bureaus, you need to follow each one’s unique process.
- Incorrect information on a credit report can be a sign of ID theft, so be vigilant.
Why would you change personal information on your credit report?
There are many reasons you may need to change the personal information contained in one or more of your credit reports. Legal name changes are common due to marriage, naturalization and other reasons. Address changes are even more common. In rare instances, people even change their Social Security number due to problems like identity theft.
Even if everything remains the same for you, personal information on your credit reports may be incorrect due to errors. Your name may be misspelled, or the report may contain an address where you’ve never lived. It’s important that you correct these mistakes so that your report accurately reflects your information.
How to change personal information on your credit report
Personal data contained in your credit reports, such as your name, addresses, employment history and Social Security number, is known as “identifying information.” Your reports reflect the identifying information that your creditors give to the agencies. You should check this information in your credit reports to ensure that there isn’t any sign of fraud on any of your accounts.
Because your credit reports reflect the information provided by your account holders, it’s usually sufficient to supply any updated identifying information to your creditors. That information will be passed to the reporting agencies and will then show up on your credit reports. The reporting agencies may accept updates of this information from you, but if you haven’t also updated your creditors, they will end up restoring the outdated information to your credit report next time they send an update.
The bottom line is that updating your creditors with any changes in your personal identifying information is both necessary and sufficient to ensure it is included on your credit reports.
If you change your name, ask your lenders and creditors to change the name on all your existing accounts. Your new name will soon be reflected on your credit reports, along with your previous name. Your credit report will list all names and variations you’ve used to apply for credit, though your new name will be primary. Names that you haven’t used for a long time may fall off the report eventually.
The credit agencies have differing policies about name changes:
- Experian: Update your name with your creditors. It is not necessary to change your name directly with Experian.
- Equifax: If you would like to change your name directly with the agency, mail your name-change request and supporting documents to Equifax at the address on your credit report. Supporting documents should be official items that carry the new name, such as a driver’s license or court documents.
- TransUnion: If you would like to change your name directly with the agency, submit legal proof of the name change (e.g., marriage license or a court order) to TransUnion at P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016.
It’s essential to notify your creditors when you move to a new address. Those creditors will let the reporting agencies know your new information, which will then show up on your report.
The credit agencies have differing policies about address changes:
- Experian: Update your address with your creditors. It is not necessary to change your address directly with Experian.
- Equifax: If you would like to update your address directly with the agency, send a letter stating your new address to Equifax at the address on your credit report, along with two qualifying documents.
- TransUnion: If you would like to update your address directly with the agency, send a letter stating your new address to TransUnion at P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016, along with two qualifying documents.
Social Security number change
It is difficult and unusual to change a Social Security number, but it is sometimes necessary. For example, someone facing continuing damage due to fraud perpetrated using their stolen Social Security number may be able to obtain a new one. As with other identifying information, new numbers should be provided to creditors, who will pass that information along to credit agencies.
The credit agencies have differing policies about Social Security number changes:
- Experian: Update your number with your creditors. It is not necessary to change it directly with Experian.
- Equifax: If you would like to change your number directly with the agency, submit a request to update it with Equifax at the address on your credit report. One of the following types of documentation is required:
- Copy of the new Social Security card
- Pay stub with the number
- W-2 form or 1099 form
- Medicaid or Medicare documentation
- TransUnion: If you would like to change your number directly with the agency, submit legal proof of the change (e.g., Social Security card or a letter from the Social Security Administration) to TransUnion at P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016.
Filing a dispute
If any information on your credit report is incorrect, your first step should be to try to figure out which of your creditors may have reported this erroneous information and update it directly with the company in question.
You should also file a dispute with at least one credit agency. Each credit agency has an online portal for submitting disputes. This can also be done by phone or mail; find numbers and addresses on the free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Here are instructions for filing a dispute with each of the credit reporting agencies:
- Experian: File a dispute online at experian.com/disputes or contact Experian by mail. If you’d like to dispute by phone, contact Experian using the number listed on your credit report.
- Equifax: File a dispute online at equifax.com/personal/disputes/ or contact Equifax by phone or mail using the information on your credit report. If filing by mail, fill out the Research Request Form that is included with your credit report.
- TransUnion: File a dispute online at dispute.transunion.com or contact TransUnion by phone or mail.
The bottom line
Changing information on your credit reports isn’t a difficult process. If you’ve made changes in your life, don’t put off updating your creditors that submit all this information about you. Credit reports have a strong influence over your financial life, so it’s a good idea to ensure that all the information they have is accurate and up to date.