The major credit reporting agencies are all still dumpster fires

By | July 12, 2023

Today I was told that my credit report at one or more of the three major credit reporting agencies was claiming that I had lived at one of my previous addresses as recently as a few years ago, when in fact I haven’t lived there since 1997. I wasn’t told which of the agencies had this incorrect information, so I decided to view my credit report at all three, find the error, and correct it.

What happened was not pretty. The dispute process didn’t fully work properly at any of the three agencies. I was eventually able to dispute all of my incorrect information at TransUnion, but I was unable to dispute some or all of the incorrect information at both Equifax and Experian and eventually gave up. Read on below details.

Remember, if you’re not the customer, you’re the product. Providing services like dispute processing to consumers is a cost center, not a profit center. The agencies have essentially zero incentive to invest any time, effort, or money into getting this right, and they will always do the absolute minimum they can get away with. Two things force them to do better: (1) the threat reputational damage from doing poorly; and (2) government oversight, regulation, and laws. These have never been enough to keep the agencies on the straight and narrow.

I’ve filed complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) about all of the problems described below. I don’t expect that those complaints will help me with resolving my specific issues, but they will at least give the CFPB ammunition for any future oversight or regulatory actions they take against the agencies.


My credit report had a bad address and a bad telephone number for me (both because of typos). I successfully initiated a dispute to remove both. Within seconds of opening the dispute I received email claiming that the dispute was resolved and offering a limit for me to view the results online. I viewed the results, and they showed that the bad address was removed from my report, but they said nothing about the phone number; it was impossible for me to tell whether this was because the displayed results were incomplete (i.e., the phone number was removed but the results didn’t show that) or the handling of the dispute was incomplete (i.e., they removed the address but not the phone number). I then had to waste 20 minutes on a live chat with an agent who spoke bad English, at the end of which they claimed they couldn’t find the bad phone number on my report, thus suggesting that the dispute was properly processed but the displayed results were incomplete.

While writing this blog posting I encountered a second issue. Although the TransUnion site successfully displayed my dispute results to me immediately after I received the results email, when I subsequently attempted to view the results it said, “Looks like we can’t access your open dispute status right now. Please try again later,” and refused to display them.

UPDATE: Before attempting to fix the bad address and telephone number, I unlocked my TransUnion credit report through the TrueIdentity web site. Now I’m unable to lock it again. The web site gives no indication of why the locking is failing. I click the lock button, it pops up a dialog with a Continue button asking me to confirm, I click the Continue button, and… nothing happens. The web site says locking or unlocking my report could take up to five minutes, but it’s been hours and no change. It really is unbelievable how awful the agencies’ web sites are.

UPDATE 2: After waiting 24 hours I was able to lock my TransUnion credit report.


My credit report had both a bad address (same as for TransUnion) and a valid address with a last-lived-at date more recent than it should have been. I was able to dispute the bad address, but there’s no way in their app to dispute the last-lived-at date for an address. There’s also no way to contact them online. I called them on the phone and navigated a long, complex automated phone menu system, at the end of which the system said it was unable to verify my identity and refused to let me speak to an agent. It offered to provide me instructions for contacting them via fax or mail, but when I asked for fax instructions, it said basically, “Ha ha just kidding, we don’t actually accept faxes anymore, you’ll have to use mail instead!” and gave me mailing instructions instead. At this point I gave up.


I was not able to view my Experian credit report through; the site did not give me any explanation for why it couldn’t display my report (N.B. I made sure to unfreeze my credit report at all three agencies before using I have an account at through which I was able to view my credit report directly, and I found the same bad address there. I attempted to dispute it through the process in the app at, and it didn’t work. Like, literally, when I started the dispute process and told it that I wanted to dispute a bad address, nothing happened. At this point I gave up.

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3 thoughts on “The major credit reporting agencies are all still dumpster fires

  1. Leisureguy

    The credit reporting agencies seem very like parasites. This comment is in response to your request on Mastodon for legitimate comments.

  2. mem_somerville

    Ay yi yi. And these things control our access to things like loans and credit–even the 0% interest loan I got for my heat pump installation. And jobs!

    One time I checked mine and it had decided that I was married to my housemate. Not that this affects him, but I became Mrs. Housemate as an “alias” that I never ever used. Did he risk becoming Mr. Mem? Nope.

  3. Michael Jones

    Sympathy. Sadly it’s like you describe nearly everywhere there’s no downside consequences for unacceptable lack of service.

    Try having a problem that spans two – or heaven forbid, more – government departments.

    My experience when I was phished and had to get a new driver’s licence (not just a new plastic card, but a new number as well) was a six week nightmare ping ponging between the state Customer Service, Transport and Police Departments.

    I’ll spare you the details, but in the pre-Internet world a drivers licence number was for life. None of the agencies really knew how to deal with the problem of cancelling one and issuing a new number.

    I resorted to writing to the Minister for Customer Service and it was fixed in 2 days. Somebody important had to issue instructions.

    Let’s hope the new process was well thought through because shortly after my case, Optus and Medibank Private (excuse the unintended pun) were hacked, exposing several hundred thousand customers’ personal data.


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