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How to Contact a Real Person at a Credit Bureau

How to Talk to a Credit Bureau

The information that credit bureaus collect affects just about every aspect of your life. Whether you’re approved for a credit card, get a good mortgage rate, can rent an apartment or even get a job – they all can hinge to varying degrees on your credit score. So when a credit bureau has something wrong, it’s imperative that you tell them. The three major bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – offer online services and prefer that you use their online forms instead of calling. But sometimes you need to talk to a live person. Here’s how to make contact.

Why Would I Need to Contact a Credit Bureau?

The three big credit bureaus or credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – create credit reports that reflect consumers’ creditworthiness. The reporting agencies are for-profit businesses and sell their reports to other businesses, such as insurers, credit card companies, banks and employers.

These businesses in turn factor in these credit reports when making decisions such as whether to offer you a credit card and at what interest rate. So it’s  important to monitor your credit reports and make sure the information on them is correct. If you ever find a mistake, you should contact the credit bureau to correct the information. You may also need to contact to a credit bureau if you think that you’re a victim of credit fraud. That could mean placing a fraud alert on your account or freezing your credit so that no one can open a new line of credit in your name.

Talk to a Real Person at Equifax

talk to a credit bureau

Equifax has multiple phone numbers that you can use to speak with a real person. The number that you use will depend on what you need help with. We recommend trying to contact the correct number. If you call the wrong number, they will simply say they cannot help you and then direct you to call another number. You can find all of Equifax’s contact information on its website, Equifax.com.

If you want to contact Equifax with a general inquiry, you can reach the company via phone at the number 800-525-6285. Just make sure to call between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Equifax has also been in the news recently because it suffered a large data breach in 2017. If you have questions about whether your information was compromised in the breach, Equifax has a dedicated phone line at 888-548-7878. Again, be sure to call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

The table below has some common reasons why you might want to call Equifax and the number that you should call in order to speak with a representative.

How to Speak With a Real Person at Equifax Reason for Calling Phone Number General inquiries 800-525-6285 Canceling a product or service (Equifax customers) 866-640-2273 Request a copy of your credit report* 866-349-5191 Place a fraud alert on your credit card 800-525-6285 Dispute information in your credit report 866-349-5191 Place, lift or remove a freeze on your credit 888-298-0045 Dedicated phone line for information on the 2017 data breach 888-548-7878

*Don’t forget: You can get a free copy of your credit report three times per year.

Talk to a Real Person at Experian

Experian makes it relatively hard to talk to a real person on the phone. The company encourages people to use its website for most things. However, there are three main phone numbers that you should know if you want to talk to someone at Experian.

Call 888-397-3742 if you want to order a credit report or if you have any questions related to fraud and identity theft. The number 888-397-3742-6 (1-888-EXPERIAN) will also work. You can place an immediate fraud/security alert on your credit with this number.

If you have a question about something on a recent credit report (such as incorrect information), you will need to have a copy of the credit report. On the report you will find a 10-digit number. This number is different for each credit report and you will need it for the representative to help with any issues related to your specific report. Once you have that number ready, you can call 714-830-7000 with questions about your report.

If you need help with anything related to your membership account with Experian, you should call the company’s customer service at 479-343-6239. You will need to call while the Experian office is open in order to speak with someone. The hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Saturday and Sunday.

How to Speak With a Real Person at Experian Reason for Calling Phone Number Buying a credit report,

Placing a fraud alert on your credit file 888-397-3742 or

888-397-37426 (888-EXPERIAN) Question about a recent credit report 714-830-7000 Question about Experian membership account 479-343-6239 Talk to a Real Person at TransUnion

TransUnion has one general support number that you can use to talk to a human for help with your credit report (such as to dispute information, freeze your account, or report fraud), your credit score or any general questions. That number is 833-395-693800.

Note that a human representative is only available Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET,  Monday through Friday.

You will hear an automated service when you first call this number. Press 4 in order to speak with a representative. Then you will need to press 1 if you have a TransUnion File Number or 2 if you do not have a number.

A TransUnion File Number is a unique identification number that you can find in the top right of your TransUnion credit report. You do not need a number to speak with a representative, but you will need it to do anything related specifically to your credit report. For example, the file number is necessary for disputing incorrect information.

The Takeaway

How to Talk to a Credit Bureau

If you ever need to buy a credit report or address an issue on your report, you will need to contact a credit bureau. Each of the three national credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, has a website where you can do most things you may need to do. In fact, they prefer that you use online forms instead of calling. But sometimes it’s comforting to speak with a real person who can answer your specific questions.

The first step is figure out what phone number you need. The credit bureaus all have multiple numbers. Not all of the numbers will allow you to solve your specific issue. Of course once you have the right number, you will also need some patience. Hold times can be long, particularly during the coronavirus slow-down. The credit bureaus have also experienced higher phone traffic since the Equifax breach in 2017.

Tips for Using a Credit Card Responsibly

  • Correcting inaccuracies on your credit report by contacting a credit bureau can help to improve your credit score. Another potential way to improve your score is to get another credit card. It will increase your available credit and improve your credit utilization ratio. You can find the best card for you with our credit card tool. Of course, you should only get another card if you can responsibly handle the credit you already have.
  • One good piece of credit card advice is always to avoid as many fees as possible. Fees can make it harder for you to keep your spending down. Higher bills, in turn, could be harder for you to pay back in full. Here are 15 credit card fees that you should avoid.
  • It can be tempting to keep swiping your credit card, but make a budget and stick to it. A financial advisor can help you create a road map to make sure you’re hitting your goals and not getting into debt. SmartAsset’s free matching tool can help you find a person to work with. It will connect you with up to three advisors in your area.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Milkos, Â©iStock.com/sturti, ©iStock.com/fstop123

The post How to Contact a Real Person at a Credit Bureau appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Source: smartasset.com

A Guide For Victims Of Tax Related Identity Theft

Being a victim of tax related identity theft can leave you scrambling to take the proper steps to set things right. Here’s are the things you need to do.

The post A Guide For Victims Of Tax Related Identity Theft appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright © Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

How To Freeze Your Credit After The Equifax Hack

Here’s how you can freeze your credit to avoid fraudulent activity. This is especially important after a hack like the one experienced by Equifax recently.

The post How To Freeze Your Credit After The Equifax Hack appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright © Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Poisoned Just Enough: Why I’m so Optimistic About 2021

A close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer this year. It was the serious kind, where you need to treat it quickly and aggressively or it will spread through your body, stick to all of your organs, and kill you.

The diagnosis was a shock to my friend and her loved ones – she’s fairly young, had always been healthy in the past, and had no warning it was coming. But she decided against self-pity and just took the diagnosis with complete seriousness. 

In the brief week of calm that she had before the storm of chemotherapy, she warned her children and her colleagues that she would need to make space, because things were going to be much more difficult for a good part of the next year. And then she laid down to accept the intravenous injection of the Red Devil – a chemotherapy medicine so toxic that the doctor needs to wear a hazardous materials suit to administer it.

Every two weeks for the next four months, this primitive and painful treatment would be repeated, beating her down further every time. She lost all her hair, strength, energy, even some of her cognition and ability to speak. Or sleep. Or eat. Then there was some painful surgery and a couple dozen sessions of searing radiation.

And finally, when there was just a faint wisp left of her physical form, some very fortunate news came: the cancer was completely gone.

Thankfully, the very bright spark of her soul remained. It had been kept alive by her own incredible will to survive, but also by the superhero dedication of her family and closest friends, who stepped up in almost unimaginable ways to support her and pull her through that dark tunnel. So this spark began to rekindle as the body around it was allowed to start rebuilding itself.

Her recovery gathered speed as the poisoning receded into the past, and many of the long-lost pleasures of the past felt new and better than ever before. She appreciated physical strength, and good food, and most importantly connections with loved ones in a way that she could never have done before having it all taken away. 

And now this woman is back, like a truly badass superhero emerging from the flames and smoke of a wrecked city, ready to make Act Two a thousand times better than her admittedly impressive first act had already been.

This is a real story, and I’m elated and happy that this loved one is still alive and feeling well again. But it’s also a hell of a metaphor for what has just happened to our world in 2020. As one of her doctors put it, she was “poisoned just enough” to cure the cancer, while the underlying human being survived and now has a chance for an unprecedented rebirth. 

You and I are now presented with this same opportunity, should we choose to accept it.

Because of COVID-19, billions of people worldwide have just been through a pretty shitty year. The effects have been very unequal and unfair – the world reported about 1.7 million deaths from the virus this year, increasing the human race’s death toll by a full three percentage points compared to a normal year. Here in the US, deaths are a full ten percent higher than normal. But hundreds of millions of people are also unemployed, some having lost their business or livelihood forever. And almost every person on the planet has had to give up some of the most fundamental human need of all: contact with each other. 

From the US CDC: The ongoing forest fire of COVID-related deaths (blue) versus our deaths from other causes (green).

Friendships, family gatherings, people in love, companies, collaboration, hikes, even kids playing together in nature – they have all been strained and pulled apart to varying degrees. Some of us were lucky to have a big enough bubble of close family and friends to sustain our mental health, but many were not. And we watched the fabric of society get torn apart as we battled and shamed each other over two sides of an issue that are inherently impossible to resolve: a desire to protect other people, versus a desire to have human contact – which is at the core of being human itself. 

This shit has gone on for month after month, wave after wave, just like the poisonous flow of chemotherapy, stripping us down relentlessly and fraying nerves and sanity everywhere. But thankfully, it is Just. About. Over.

And instead of mourning and throwing ourselves a pity party for this past year, I think it’s worth looking at all the positive things we have put in place to help us survive, which will start to look even more positive as the Coronatimes recede rapidly into the rearview mirror. (Note: some of these points were provided by my cancer-beating friend, who happens to be a director at a human resources startup firm.)

The Future of Work has suddenly accelerated: working from home has been greatly expanded, with almost universal approval. In the future, we will still be able to hang out with our coworkers in person, but we can do it on our own terms instead of 9-to-5 every day just because the boss says so. 

I believe this is much bigger than most people realize – the drastic reduction in commuting, the ability of people to leave expensive metro areas and repopulate small towns that provide a better quality of life, and the ability of companies to lock in the best talent regardless of geography. On top of greater happiness, these changes all provide huge increases in productivity and efficiency, which are the building blocks of all future human prosperity.

Education: Remote learning has shown us that kids can often learn more quickly when we set them free to run at their own pace, and that some (although certainly not all) kids feel safer without the social pressures of school environments . The pandemic has accelerated education-related technology, something that had been lagging in the past just because we were too complacent to make the changes.

Health Care:  Phone, video and text calls with your doctor, which should have been a thing since about 1995, are now truly a thing. I hope this trend continues, because it’s more pleasant and more efficient. And you know how I feel about efficiency – it’s the highest form of beauty.

On top of this, the massive infusion of money and effort that went into creating and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine has permanently blazed some useful new trails. For example, the “messenger RNA” vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna are just the tip of the iceberg of some incredible new stuff based on the same technology. It could even become the eventual cure for cancer.

Slowing Down: When the pandemic shut down most of our travel and busy appointments, suddenly the streets and parks filled with people, just out there enjoying a stroll with their kids and their friends. Bicycle sales went through the roof, and remain there to this day. 

This is how we should have been spending more of our free time in the first place, because while some travel is valuable and important, to be honest a lot of it was just bullshit. People were packing too much into their lives. Travel and appointments should be like a hot sauce you shake upon your life to add a luxurious layer of spice, rather than the basis of what you do every single day. The reward is greater health, happiness, and wealth and more connected communities. 

A More Resilient Economy: 

The 2020 roller coaster for US large-company stocks

In just one month leading up to March 23rd, more than a third of the value of all US businesses was erased in a Ten Trillion dollar ($10,000,000,000,000) nuclear explosion of fear. Even Warren Buffett, famous for the world’s steadiest investing hand and for the expression “Be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy”, became fearful and dumped all of his airline stocks at the worst time. 

Five months later, that same stock market was back at an all-time record, the future of the largest companies was looking rosier than ever, and even the regular economy was experiencing a faster rebound than almost anybody had expected.

How did this happen? With the simple combination of human resilience, and the safety margin that is inherent in any well-run life or business. People couldn’t go to movie theaters, so they spent more on Netflix. Lumber prices spiked, but steel prices dropped so we changed some of our house construction to reflect it. Restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms, but we supported them by ordering more take-out. 

(Note: some parts of the economy, especially in other countries, are still in the middle of an economic and humanitarian nightmare – there is still much more we can do to help out and we’ll get into some of that below.)

And the toilet paper hoarding? That was just plain herd-mentality stupidity and it should never have happened. But even that eventually came back to the shelves.

So I’ve now watched us come though the Corona Crash, on top of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis and the 2000 Dot-com bubble and bust, all in my investing lifetime.  And we just keep going, and we get a bit better at everything with each passing year. Despite all of the disasters, the pockets of corruption, and the dim-witted and power-hungry politicians that we are all too aware of. This has galvanized my confidence that in the big picture, we are not really all doomed

The world is a good place, humans are fundamentally good creatures, and the more we can nurture this goodness (and avoid fanning the flames of fear, which is the only thing that causes us to be bad), the faster we will continue our rise to an ever-better state of existence.

IMPORTANT: Speaking of Making Things Better!

2020 was a year of increased inequality, which pushed many people further into poverty, while making many rich people even richer. Because of my investments and my ownership of this website, I was (yet again) in that lucky second group. And I suspect you were probably on this side of fortune as well.

Because of these high earnings, and the fact that the total bill for my lifestyle keeps coming in at only around $20,000 per year, this means that I now have the chance to give away yet another $100,000. This brings the total of this blog’s donations to over $400,000 in the last five years, which is starting to sound like some real money!

Where the money went:

$95,000 to GiveWell via my Betterment investment account.

Betterment’s super-convenient charitable giving interface.

This is by far the most effective way I’m aware of, to make each dollar do the most good for people. The nonprofit organization GiveWell does tireless ongoing research on world charities, and keeps an updated list of which can do the most work with your money, right now.

On top of this, donating appreciated shares from my Betterment account gives me the maximum tax benefit – on my 2020 taxes and all subsequent years. This further multiplies my money’s ability to do good. (And it’s a very easy way to give – overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to getting it done)

$2500 to Bicycle Colorado – it’s not solving world health, but increasing bike friendliness here in the US is deceptively powerful, because we have so much low-hanging fruit. There is still far too much car clown behavior and far too little cycling, but that is changing rapidly in Colorado and other states because of organizations like this one. Our numbers have been growing by enormous percentages every year, and now the city planners and governors have learned to consider bike (and foot) transportation when they allocate their massive transportation budgets each year.

 $1500 to the Against Malaria foundation. Although similar to the GiveWell donation above, I gave this amount to support an effort put together by readers of the MMM forum, who have collectively given over $20,000.

$1000 (doubled to $2000 because of an external donor) to plant TWO THOUSAND MORE TREES! to the National Forest Foundation.

Total: $100,000

Bonus: In last year’s philanthropy summary, I planned to invest $5000 in building and expanding a local solar farm. I didn’t fully reach that goal, but I did manage to add almost 3 kilowatts of extra capacity to the MMM-HQ solar array (my co-owners and I split this expense and my friends at Shaw Solar gave us a great deal on the equipment).

Coworking members help me install another eight panels of solar panel onto more of the roof of the HQ building.

We also upgraded other aspects of the building’s energy efficiency, and we are soon about to “cut the pipe” – by switching the old gas furnace over to a high efficiency heat pump system ($3200), and canceling our entire account with the gas company. This allows us to be a 100% clean-energy facility, as well as ending the surprisingly high monthly fee that Xcel Energy charges us as commercial customers, whether we burn any gas or not.

Where the money came from: 

Initially, the sudden recession slammed the brakes on almost all of my income. Many of the companies that allow this website to earn money had paused or canceled their referral programs, most notably things like travel and rewards credit cards, which were sometimes the biggest source of cash.

On top of that, many of our cherished members of the HQ Coworking space paused or canceled their memberships as they either lost their jobs or decided to work entirely from home for childraising or virus-related reasons.

But then an unexpected boom rose in its place: the aftermath of absurdly low interest rates. I encouraged readers to take advantage of them and refinance their mortgages and student loans, and thousands of people did. This led to a different but equally sized windfall, which has brought in enough profit to keep my donations going.

(Note: although my personal spending doesn’t increase, I did also invest the rest of my earnings this year into other businesses, and gave or loaned some to personal, local projects. )

You Should Do it Too!

If you have more than enough money, you should give some away.

Try it. It feels good and this good feeling lasts forever, making your entire life feel more worthwhile. If you are willing, please share some of your donations in the comments (you can do so under a pseudonym if you like).

I will also list this blog’s own main sources of income for 2020 – if even a small portion of readers find these companies useful as I do, it will generate tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, which I will get to keep using to try to do some more good!

Credible: super efficient (good user interface) and low-cost originating and refinancing of
Mortgages <-Well under 3% these days, under 2.5% for 15-year
and
Student Loans <-temporary $1000 bonus(?!) currently in place with this link!

Travel and cash-back rewards cards: aside from the usual benefits, one good hack I have discovered is to put some of my charitable giving on a new high-roller card, to instantly reach the minimum spend requirement. The charity gets a large gift, and I get the big signing bonus and things like airport lounge access, free hotel stays, etc.

The Coverage Critic mobile phone comparison page: This has been unexpectedly successful, with thousands of people upgrading to cheaper phone plans thanks to my friend and HQ coworker Chris Smith’s expert nerdy-detailed-level advice.

Bluehost web hosting: the place I got my own start blogging, this company offers super-cheap $3 per month web hosting with easy point-and-click site design and setup, year after year, while maintaining a generous referral program that keeps many websites in business. (They also sponsored one of our pop-up business schools!)

Sedera health share organization: my friends serve as advisors to members who they refer to Sedera though their group The Fire Guild. They have agreed to share proceeds with me, and I’m donating 100% of this year’s share to RIP Medical Debt. Every $100 you donate here, forgives about $10,000 of medical debt, so I hope we will be able to get to $1 million of wiped-out-debt within a year.

That’s it for ol’ MMM for 2020 – I will see you in the bright and sparkly future of 2021!

Source: mrmoneymustache.com

COVID-19 Scams

A man and woman chat in an office

As if fearing the health-related consequences of the COVID-19 coronavirus wasn’t enough, there’s also a fair amount of financial uncertainty related to recession and an unstable economy. People all across the United States are wondering how they’ll pay their bills and make ends meet as they file for unemployment and wait for a one-time stimulus check that may not cover the bills.

Go to Guide
Privacy Policy

It’s unfortunate, but some bad actors will always take advantage of situations like coronavirus. In addition to everything else, individuals also need to be on the lookout for COVID-19 scams that are cropping up. In fact, there are so many coronavirus scams out there right now that the FTC created an FTC Scam Bingo game to try and spread the word.

Read up on what COVID-19 scams to look out for and how you can protect yourself and your finances.

COVID-19 Stimulus Check Scams

Some scammers are tricking people into thinking they need to provide personal information to obtain their government relief check. Consumers do not need to sign up for the federal stimulus checks. The government plans to distribute them based on consumers’ 2018 or 2019 federal tax returns starting April 2020. Keep in mind that the IRS does not initiate contact by email, text, or social media.

How to Protect Yourself

Do not respond to any correspondence claiming to be the IRS or other branch of the government requesting personal information in exchange for access to your stimulus check. For accurate information about the federal relief checks and when you can expect yours, visit the IRS’s coronavirus resource.

Student Loan Scams

Americans owe over $1.64 trillion in student loan debt, so it’s no wonder that scammers are preying on this financially vulnerable population. Watch out for offers to forgive your student loan debt in its entirety or change your repayment plan for a fee, or requests for other personal information in order to suspend your payments in response to coronavirus. There is no such thing as instant student loan relief, and you should not need to pay a fee for help from your loan servicer. All federally backed loans have automatically suspended payments and set interest to 0%.

How to Protect Yourself

Do not accept unsolicited offers to help you with your
student loan payments and never give out your personal information. If you are
having trouble making payments because you’ve lost your job, reach out to your
loan servicer for options.

Social Security Scams

Social Security scams are common, but coronavirus has put a new twist on the scam. Now, in addition to watching out for scammers claiming that your Social Security number is about to be suspended, you also need to watch out for calls or letters claiming that your benefits will be canceled due to coronavirus-related office closures. Social Security offices are closed, but officers are still working, and your benefits will not be suspended. And your Social Security number will never be suspended.

How to Protect Yourself

If you are unsure if a call or email is from the Social Security Administration, reach out to them yourself for confirmation before sharing any personal information. If you have already given you Social Security number to a scammer, visit IdentityTheft.gov/SSA for steps on how to protect your credit and identity.

Medicare Scams

Because older individuals are particularly susceptible to COVID-19, scammers have been targeting them with Medicare scams. Be on the lookout for fraudulent Medicare representatives asking you to verify personal information, like your bank account, Social Security, or Medicare numbers. Medicare representatives will never call you to verify your account number, offer you free equipment or services, or try to sell you anything.

How to Protect Yourself

If you’re
not sure if a phone call is legitimate, hang up and call Medicare yourself.
That way you can confirm that you are talking to an actual Medicare
representative. To reach the Medicare office, call 1-800-633-4227.

Fraudulent Charities

Whether it’s a natural disaster or worldwide pandemic
like the coronavirus, legitimate charities work hard to aid people in need.
This can include providing food, funds, housing or other forms of assistance. Unfortunately,
fake charities can crop up too. They might use names that sound similar to real
charities and may even have emails, websites and phone numbers that seem
legitimate but aren’t.

How to Protect Yourself

Donate to charities that you are already familiar with. If you’re questioning the legitimacy of a charity, you can use third-party websites to check credentials. Options include Charity Navigator and Give.org, which is maintained by the Better Business Bureau.

Protect Yourself from COVID-19 Scams

As you continue to navigate the uncharted waters of a
worldwide pandemic, be on the lookout for COVID-19 scams. If you’re ever unsure
about something, you can consult trustworthy government resources or well-known
news outlets to verify information. Share this information about scams with
others so they know what to be on the lookout for as well.

More resources on scams:

  • Senior’s Guide to Avoiding Scams
  • Tax Season Scams
  • Student Loan Scams
  • Common Scams

The post COVID-19 Scams appeared first on Credit.com.

Source: credit.com

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