Whenever somebody applies for credit or financing, his or her credit report will be pulled electronically from any of the three major consumer reporting agencies (CRA). These CRAs are Experian, Trans Union, or Equifax – companies that are responsible for maintaining correct and up-to-date credit information around the country. Everyone is probably aware that these three nationwide credit bureaus have to monitor billions of data records therefore it is not inevitable to find errors with the reports. A majority of consumers would have at least one omission or inaccurate detail on their credit report.
It is for this very reason that as a consumer, the responsibility of checking your own credit information falls on your shoulders. Make sure that you get a copy of your credit report from each of the three Credit Reporting Agencies. You should contact each credit bureau and ask for your free credit report (you are entitled to 1 free copy every year). If you have been denied credit within the past 60 days, you are also entitled to a free credit report. FWIW, there is no free credit score gov as of yet. But there are free trial credit scores.
Here is a list of each credit bureau. Make that call and start checking your credit info.
Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta , GA 30374-0241;(800) 685-1111.
Experian(formerly TRW),P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013; (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742).
Trans Union , P.O. Box 1000 , Chester , PA 19022 ; (800) 916-8800.
Using The Internet To Obtain Your Credit Report
You can also use the internet to obtain your credit report. Many companies offer instant access to your credit report online and will offer you a free credit report if you try their credit monitoring service for 30 days. Credit monitoring services are a great way to keep track of your credit and stop potential identity thieves. As soon as you or someone else applies for credit using your name and social security number, these services will alert you via email. If you did not request this new credit you just need to log into your account and start the process of alerting the credit bureaus of potential fraud activity.
How is the information found on your credit report used
The credit information that is reported on your credit report will be used to evaluate you when you apply for credit, insurance, employment, and other purposes allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Therefore it is crucial that you review your credit reports for accuracy from at least annually.
Why is it important to monitor your credit report
By monitoring your credit report you will save yourself a lot of problems or unpleasant surprises when you have to get that credit card or if you’re considering buying a home. You will also be aware of any potential problems that may stop the credit grantor from approving you for the credit you seek. Knowing exactly what a lender will see when they pull your credit will allow you either try to dispute the items and have them removed from your report or prepare explanations for the credit problems and discuss them with your potential lender BEFORE you apply for that line of credit.
What to do if you find inaccurate information
– Be meticulous in examining your credit information. If you see any discrepancies, verify them as soon as possible. The law says that the credit bureau should examine the matter within a reasonable amount of time, usually 30 days.
– Dispute inaccurate information your credit report. Some credit repair specialist suggests you dispute items one at a time. Some say do it all at once. I have had clients that have done both, and there was never any one way that was more successful then the other in our case. I truly believe it depends on the agent you get at the credit bureau.
– Write an ORIGINAL dispute letter. Don’t just copy a form you found online. If you found it, then so did potentially hundreds if not thousands of other people. The agents at the credit bureaus in the disputes area have probably seen any freely given online dispute letter hundreds if not thousands of times. They will not take your request as seriously as they should if you do this.
The credit bureau is required to investigate and if that item cannot be confirmed within a reasonable amount of time, that credit record must be removed from the credit file. They must provide you with a free copy of your corrected credit report. Send your dispute letter to the credit bureau via certified mail, return receipt requested. If you are using a credit monitoring system you can do this online. Just make sure they send your dispute to all 3 agencies. If the credit bureau completes its investigation and decides that the negative information should remain in your file, you can add a letter of explanation to your credit report to refute the claim.