Equifax and SSN Problem

As you should already know, the credit reports in US are collected and stored by three credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian and Equifax.

And while my interactions with Transunion and Experian weren't exactly hassle-free, Equifax has proven to be the most unfriendly to expats.

So, here's the thing: while everyone who is lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis (as opposed to having a permanent residence - Green Card) are eligible to receive the Social Security Number (SSN), the actual card comes with an interesting note on it:


SSN with the Valid For Work Only With DHS Authorization note

No big deal, right? It's still an SSN, issued by the Social Security Administration, and it's very similar to the one US citizens have, only without some US social security benefits (such as retirement). Well, in my experience, some of creditors would, from time to time, spend some time looking at it and probably ask their manager whether this SSN is eligible for, let's say, applying for a credit card or getting a bank account. But they will always proceed, and they should.

And you're stuck with a card with this note until you receive permanent residency, then you can re-issue it.

Well, Equifax might be the only major important company that doesn't really recognize this kind of SSN as a "real" SSN.

A couple months ago, I've submitted a request for the free Annual Credit Report online, and, after answering a bunch of security questions, got a screen saying that they could not verify my identity and that I have to request the credit report by mail.

Not the great news, but no surprise – I had assumed that my credit history is not long enough for them to be confident in my identity. Went ahead and filled in the paper form – which is not very complicated – and sent it. Within 2-4 weeks, I've had the reports from Transunion and Experian in my mailbox. Equifax, however, didn't send me my credit report right away. Instead, I've got a request from them for additional identification information – which I had to send one more mail to them with, specifically with an ID and SSN. Yes, a copy of the SSN card with the "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION" note on it.

3 weeks later, I'm finally getting the credit report from Equifax. Happy ending – or I thought so at first. There was another letter from Equifax same day with a following note:

Be advised that worker ID numbers will not be added to the credit file. This number is not issued by the social Security administration as a social security number.

And in the report itself, the SSN field is empty. It took me a call to Equifax toll-free number to fully understand that my SSN is not associated to my Equifax credit file. It doesn't take a lot of knowledge and imagination to understand that it might lead to some problems, from lenders not being able to pull my report, to lenders not being able to report my loans information to Equifax, directly affecting my credit score.

I'm not alone in this problem. Here are some more people I've found having the same problem:

The only page where I could find something close enough to being a solution is this one in the comments at the bottom of the page.

I provided the EAD to Equifax and in about two weeks...

Although the issue Leonardo Citro was having is slightly different, apparently, sending the EAD along with SSN might help them recognize the SSN. The only catch is, not everybody might have an EAD – but if you've applied for a Green Card, you should have one.

So, that's what I did. In the envelope, I've enclosed:

  • a copy of the letter I received from Equifax with the note mentioned in the beginning of this article;
  • a copy of my SSN;
  • a copy of my EAD;
  • a letter that explains the whole thing and requests them to add my SSN to the file.

On this page you'll find the address to send a mail to Equifax.

For those who don't have an EAD, I'd highly recommend calling Equifax, probably multiple times, and get to a manager who can help resolve the issue.

I'm yet to see the results of the letter – in 3-4 weeks from now, but I'm happy to share the knowledge. Feel free to leave a comment if you're experiencing a similar issue with Equifax.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Equifax sent me a letter practically saying the same thing they did the last time:

Be advised that worker ID numbers will not be added to the credit file. This number is not issued by the social Security administration as a social security number.

They didn't add my SSN to my file. I'm looking at what else I can do and I'll keep this post updated!