If you have ever looked into your credit score in the United States, then you are probably familiar with the Equifax credit report company. Equifax offers credit reports for anyone looking to keep an eye on their overall financial health, as seen by the banks and other financial institutions they do business with. They also can protect you from id theft, and may be a company to contact if your identity is stolen.
You have probably heard of the Equifax credit score before. It is a three digit number ranging from 300 to 850 that is used as a guide to a person's proven ability to pay back loans. The higher the number the better - the median number in the United States is around 720. The lower your number, the less likely you are to be approved for credit card or mortgage loan applications, and if you are accepted, you almost certainly will end up paying higher interest rates on the loans. This is because the banks see you as a higher risk lender - you probably either have a lot of credit card debt already, or you have a history of missing payments in the past. These are the two biggest factors that influence your score, so if you expect to be applying for a major loan in the future, it is a good idea to ensure that you pay down your debts and absolutely make sure your payments go through on time.
The Equifax credit bureau is responsible for more than just credit scores, however. They also offer services where they monitor your financial activity, which can help spot identity theft if it happens. Any applications for credit, or credit usage is reported through this service, and if anything looks suspicious, you are contacted immediately.
When you order your Equifax credit reports you may see something that you believe does not belong. Perhaps they are reported a debt that has been paid off already, or a missed payment that you know you made on time. For Equifax disputes like this, you will need to contact the financial institution that is reporting incorrectly, rather than Equifax. They are simply reporting what they are being told by other companies, and while they have the contact information for any institution that you have a history with, they are unable to do anything on your behalf. If it seems that you are okay with the institution, but Equifax still reports incorrectly, then you will want to contact them directly.
This process takes time, so make sure you do not plan on making any major credit applications for several months after this process. Equifax reports that they respond to dispute requests within 30 to 45 days. The Equifax credit scores will update after they make their adjustments, though you may not see a change in your score for a month or two afterwards. In the credit world, changes happen over a period of time, and it is simply impossible to rush these mathematical adjustments.