Experian Credit Reports: All You Need to Know

  • Experian Credit Reports: All You Need to Know
18 Apr, 2024
Daniel Cohen
14 min
78
Man sitting in amaze because of low Experian credit report score

Lenders rely on Experian credit reports to determine your creditworthiness. Should they? What to know about Experian.

As one of the three major consumer reporting agencies in the U.S., Experian compiles financial data on more than a billion people (including you) and puts that data into a report that it sells to a potential lender. That lender uses the report to decide if it will lend you money and at what rates. What could go wrong? Learn how to protect yourself.

Experian is one of the three leading consumer reporting agencies (CRA) in the United States. Experian makes billions of dollars ($6.619 billion in 2023!) from collecting consumer data, arranging that data into a report, and then selling those reports to lenders and potential lenders. Lenders and potential lenders then use those reports to gauge a loan applicant’s creditworthiness, reliability, and general financial acumen.

Because of its role in determining whether you get a loan, a mortgage, an apartment, a home, a job, an insurance policy, or an education and all the opportunities and benefits that come with those things, an Experian credit report is hugely significant. Therefore, a credit report should be flawless, but an Experian credit report will often have errors. These errors can cause severe damage to a person's perceived reliability and in the long run cause severe damage to a person's financial well-being.

As consumer protection attorneys, we see the effects of good and bad Experian credit reports daily. This article provides an overview of Experian, its process, its problems, the effects of those problems, what consumers can do about those problems, and how we can help you. Because every consumer and every consumer’s financial history and financial situation are different, you should contact an experienced credit report lawyer if you have any specific questions or issues related to Experian.

All About the Experian Company

Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion make up the “big three” CRAs in the U.S. Experian was founded in 1996 and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. In its 28-year history, Experian has experienced sales and mergers, been fined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), and, as we stated above, made billions and billions of dollars.

Experian also has other other businesses for more targeted inquiries, like Experian rental history and Experian background check.

How Does Experian Conduct Credit Reports?

Experian gathers and bundles financial information on over one billion people and businesses worldwide. Experian reports play a critical role in lending decisions as creditors and lenders use them to assess a potential debtor or potential borrower’s creditworthiness.

How Long Does a Credit Reporting from Experian Take?

A federal law passed in 1970 called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires Experian to give consumers can get a free personal credit report from Experian every year. Since then, that practice has evolved so that now, consumers can get a free credit report every week. If you go to Experian’s website and request an Experian credit report online, you can get it almost immediately. If you order it by phone or mail, it will take around two weeks.

Experian refreshes credit reports as it receives new information from financial institutions and creditors, usually monthly.

What Information Does Experian Provide in Their Credit Reports?

An Experian credit report includes:

  • Personally identifying information. Your name, address, former addresses, Social Security Number, birthdate, telephone number, and other information. 
  • Credit accounts. Past and current credit cards, mortgages, loans, apartment rentals, utilities, and bank information.
  • Credit inquiries. Inquiries from potential lenders into your credit in the last two years, those inquiries appear here.
  • Public records. Any bankruptcies, collections activity, and other relevant judicial or relevant information appears here.

Each section provides some insight into your credit history and behaviors. Each section can be the source of Experian complaints and an Experian credit report dispute

How Does Information Get on My Experian Credit Report?

Lenders and creditors send Experian your data whenever you apply for a new credit card, apply for a loan, make a payment, miss a payment, use a credit card, file for bankruptcy, or otherwise engage in any activity that affects your finances. Experian refresh credit report accordingly.

Depending on the nature of the information requested by the potential lender, Experian may need to scour the relevant public records databases and make specific inquiries into financial institutions, landlords, or employers.

How Does Experian Determine My Credit Score?

An Experian credit score ranges from 300 to 850. 850 is a perfect score and tells creditors you are reliable and creditworthy. The lower the score, the less creditworthy and reliable you become. Experian calculates your credit score based on the information in your credit report, including your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, types of credit in use, and recent credit activities. While Experian uses a proprietary formula and weighs each factor differently, one missed payment can decrease your credit score by up to 100 points.

How Long Does Information Stay On Experian Credit Report?

Experian keeps most financial information, like account histories, on your credit report for up to seven years. Credit inquiries stay on your Experian credit report for two years. Bankruptcies can last ten years, while positive information may remain indefinitely.

Which Companies Use Experian Credit Reports?

Any lender, loan company, credit card issuer, store, auto dealership, auto financier, utility company, mortgage company, landlord, property manager, insurance company, or bank will use your Experian credit report. Additionally, some employers may review your Experian report if that employer deems your financial responsibility relevant. 

Experian Identity Theft Protection

By law, Experian must provide identity theft protection. Consumers can request a credit freeze, which blocks access to a consumer’s credit report for most inquiries. Experian charges about $25 per month for a credit lock, which allows consumers to require companies that inquire into a credit report to verify the consumer’s identity.

Can Errors Occur in Experian Credit Reports?

Yes. Errors can range from a slightly misspelled name or street address to Experian saying you’re deceased on your credit report. No matter how large or small the error or inaccuracy, it can have massive and hugely devastating consequences on your financial wellbeing. We encourage everyone to check their Experian credit report.

Inaccuracy in Experian Credit Report

Inaccuracies can happen from typographical errors, administrative errors, misspellings, a misplaced apostrophe, getting outdated information from a bank or credit card, getting no information from a lender or bank, or getting incorrect information from a lender or bank. Identity theft can also result in your credit report being inaccurate.

A simple wrong account status or balance can make it appear like you have more debt than you do. A misspelling in your name can add someone else’s debt to your credit report.

Experian Mixed File

A “mixed file” occurs when your Experian credit report includes the financial information and debt liability of another person. This reduces your credit score. Significantly. And is usually due to similar Social Security Numbers or names. Regardless of how it occurs, when it occurs, it can be devastating if you lose a mortgage or loan as a result. If you say, “Experian is pulling the wrong info on my credit report,” contact a consumer protection attorney.

Mistakenly Reported as Deceased by Experian

Experian has also erroneously identified people as deceased.

What Are the Consequences of Having Errors in Your Experian Credit Report?

Any inaccuracy can have life-altering consequences. When a lender or potential lender or potential employer reviews an inaccurate Experian credit report, that lender or employer is not reviewing an accurate picture of you and your creditworthiness. As a result, any inaccuracy can lead to loan denial, credit denial, mortgage denial, or loss of a job offer. This will have devastating effects on your financial well-being and emotional health.

Even if the error does create enough doubt for the lender to deny your loan, a diminished credit score can result in higher interest rates and more unfavorable loan terms. This means that you will pay more your loan than you should.

You Can Contact Experian if You Need to Correct an Error in Credit Report

The FCRA requires Experian to use reasonable procedures to make sure that its credit reports are accurate. Credit report accuracy is so crucial that when Experian fails, the FCRA provides an avenue and regulations for consumers to dispute the information. A credit report lawyer can help you in your dispute and tell you how to remove hard inquiries from Experian.

But to dispute errors before those errors do damage, you have to regularly review your credit report, identify the errors, collect evidence that proves the information on your Experian credit report is wrong, write a dispute letter, and send that letter to Experian via certified U.S. mail.

What to Do if You do not Receive Answers to Your Questions

If you spot an error, contact Experian directly to dispute the mistake. Provide supporting documentation to facilitate the correction process. If you don't receive satisfactory responses, consider escalating your concerns or seeking legal advice. If Experian denied credit report errors, contact a lawyer.

You Can Sue Experian if there Is Incorrect Information in Credit Report

There are many reasons a consumer might sue Experian.

  • If Experian fails to correct an error after a dispute,
  • If Experian ignores the dispute, or
  • If the mistake has already caused you financial damage or the loss of an opportunity.

Who Can You Contact to Solve the Problem With an Error in an Experian Credit Report

You can deal with Experian yourself and tell them, “My Experian credit report is wrong” or “My Experian credit report is for a deceased person, and I am not deceased,” and then ask Experian to fix its Experian credit report error and update the Experian credit report. Or you can contact a credit report lawyer.

Assistance in Disputing Experian Credit Report

A consumer protection attorney will:

  • Provide legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances,
  • Support you through the dispute process,
  • Serve as a liaison between you and Experian so you can enjoy your life, and
  • When necessary, file a lawsuit against Experian.

Lawsuits Against Experian

Because consumer protection is all that we do, we have become rather adept at it. Here are some instances of when we have sued Experian and received a result that our clients found satisfactory.

Case of Pamela vs. Experian

We recently represented Pamela, an Illinois mother who cosigned for her son’s student loans. We sued Experian when they erroneously reported a delinquency from her son’s student loans and failed to investigate and fix the error. We settled that case for an amount that Pamela found favorable. 

Case of Robert vs. Experian

We recently represented Robert from Minnesota when his Experian credit report erroneously reported a closed account as open. As a result, Robert got less than favorable credit terms on a credit card. We settled with Experian for an amount with which Robert was satisfied.

Case of Denise vs. Experian

We recently represented Denise from Mississippi. Experian identified her as deceased on her credit report and she lost opportunities, suffered emotional distress, and expended much time trying to get it fixed. We settled this case for a favorable amount.

In addition to the financial compensation, these lawsuits highlight the importance of a CRA like Experian acknowledging and honoring the rights of consumers.

Contact Us

Understanding your Experian credit report is important. If you're facing challenges with your Experian credit report, our law firm is here to help. We're committed to protecting your rights and ensuring your financial future is not hindered by inaccuracies on your credit report. At Consumer Attorneys, all we do is consumer protection law. We know Experian. We know Experian credit report complaints. We take Experian consumer complaints seriously. We know the substance of consumer protection laws. We know the laws that give consumers rights. We know litigation. We know courtroom procedures. We know how to negotiate.

We have represented thousands of consumers who find themselves at odds with Experian, other consumer reporting agencies, background check companies, and many others. Our goal is to hold these companies accountable when they make mistakes that hurt you, to get consumers the compensation they deserve, and to make sure things are as fair as they can be.

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About the author
Daniel Cohen
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Daniel Cohen is a Founding Partner of Consumer Attorneys and a co-chair of Consumer Finance Litigation practice. Since 2017, he is a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates and the National Consumer Law Center. Mr. Cohen is a nationally-recognized practitioner of consumer protection law. He has a wealth of proven legal experience in the US in: collective claims, representing visually impaired people who believe their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act have been violated in both the physical and digital environments, corporate governance and dispute resolution. Read more

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