So you have probably heard that you should check your credit report routinely, but why? There is actually 3 good reasons to do this:
- Your ability to get a loan and the amount that you will have to pay to borrow the money
- To ensure that the information reported for you is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for to purchase items like a car, house, insurance, or even to apply for a job.
- To guard yourself against identity theft. If someone uses your personal information to commit fraud and then you don’t pay the bills, the account is reported as delinquent on your credit report. This could affect your ability to get credit or even get the job you applied for.
How do I get a copy of my credit report?
FCRA requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
The three nationwide credit reporting companies have set up one website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can use the form in this brochure, or you can print it from ftc.gov/credit. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
What if a company denies me credit or I am not eligible for a job because of my credit?
You are entitled to a free report if for any reason a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying you credit, insurance, or employment, based on the information contained in your credit report. You must ask for the report within 60 days of receiving the notice. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting company.
You’re also entitled to more than one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
Otherwise, a credit reporting company may charge you up to $11.00 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period. To buy a copy of your report, contact:
How do I correct an error?
FCRA requires that both the credit reporting company and the information provider (person, company, or organization that provided the information about you) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights under this law, you will need to contact the credit reporting company and the information provider.
First, you must report the error to the credit reporting agency in writing. You will need to include copies of the documents that support your claim. Do not send the originals. Your letter should clearly identify each item in your credit report that you are disputing. Clearly state the face, explain why you dispute the information, and request that the inaccurate information be removed or corrected. You will need to send the letter certified mail with a return receipt requested to put with your paperwork. Be sure to take copies of the letter and any other documents you mailed.
Credit reporting companies must investigate any errors in question and will do so usually within 30 days. They are required to forward any documents relevant to the error to the organization that provided the information to them. After the information provider receives your complaint, they must investigate the claim and report the results back to the credit reporting agency. If you are cleared of the error, the information company must notify all three of the nationwide credit reporting companies so that the information is corrected in your file.
When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must sent you the results in writing and include a free copy of your report with the disputed results changed. If an item has been changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put this information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that is it accurate.
Upon request from you, the credit reporting company must send notices of the correction to anyone who requested your credit information in the past six months. You can also request that a report be sent to anyone who would have received a copy of your report for employment consideration during the past two years.
What if this does not clear up the error?
You can request that a statement of the dispute be added to your file and included in any future reports. You can also ask that the credit company provide this statement to anyone who received a copy of your credit report . However, you can expect to pay a fee for this service.
How do I remove negative reports from my file?
Unfortunately there is no quick fix to remove accurate negative information from your credit report. The credit agencies are allowed to report negative impacts to your credit for up to 7 years and bankruptcy information for up to 10 years. The only thing you can do to help improve your credit score is to pay off any outstanding judgments against you and to ensure that you are paying any monthly credit obligations on time.