How to Get Your Free Credit Report and Fix It
As of 2003 thanks to the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (the FACT act), every American is now entitled to their credit report free once a year from the three major credit-reporting agencies. They are Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Just make sure you order your credit report through the central agency that offers them free, if you go to one of these three credit reporting agencies, they might charge you. If you should get mixed up or confused like I have, when they ask for your credit card number, just cancel out of their web page. Do not pay for your annual free credit report. Your credit report is never just sent to you, you need to request it.
Beware that there are still ads for companies that advertise to get your free credit report from them, and then they charge you for some other fees, do not order from them. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there is only one authorized source where you can get your free credit reports and that is your free annual credit report.
There are other instances where you are entitled to get your credit report free as well. And these instances are.
- If you’ve been denied a loan because of your credit report, you will get a letter stating which credit report they used.
- You are denied insurance because of your credit report.
- You don’t get hired because of something on your credit report.
Check your credit report
When you get your report, look at all of the sections. The credit reports can be different from each other it is up to the company or creditor to choose who they report to.
You might see your name with several different spellings, or several different social security numbers or wrong addresses, that’s because it was reported that way by someone at some point, I would also dispute those. But the agencies say they don’t change those errors.
Some things to check for:
- Make sure any loans and or credit cards are accurate with payment data and the name(s) on that account.
- Status of the account, sometimes you might think you closed an account and there it sits open.
- Make sure it’s an account you ever had.
- If you did pay off something, judgment, collections etc, make sure it says so.
- The public records section, this will include things like bankruptcy and liens and judgments. If there are any, make sure they are accurate.
- Check for good credit reports, for example you bought a used car several years ago and paid it off on time and it doesn’t show up on your report. They don’t have to report it, so call them up and ask them to report that you did pay it off in time.
Bankruptcies stay on your credit report for 10 years and then have to come off. Bad credit cards and other types of negative information, comes off in 7 years. So check these dates.
Two different types of inquires
There are two different type of inquires, this is the list of people and business who wanted to see your credit report.
Hard inquiry is one that you initiated by filling out a credit application, which can be anything dealing with credit such as applying for a new credit card or buying a new washer and getting credit at the store.
Soft inquiry; these are from the companies that want to send you offers, such as Capital One sending you a credit card application. These can also be current creditors who are monitoring your credit. The soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score, and the hard ones might not, depending on the time period of them.
How to fix any problems
If there are errors then you need to fix them. The first step is to file a dispute with the credit reporting bureau that has the error on it, for example if your Experian report has an error you will file a dispute with Experian. You can do this on the Internet, in writing or on the phone.
On their web page there will be a place to click on for disputes, follow that through. There will be instructions and usually you click on a reason you are disputing this. Do this for whichever reports have the error, if all three of the credit reporting agencies have the same error, you have to do the dispute with all three agencies. You can dispute more then one error at a time. Then you wait, the credit reporting agencies have up to 30 days to validate what is on the report as correct or an error. Basically what they do is to send an inquiry to the creditor who placed this on your credit report in the first place, then this creditor has a certain amount of time to verify that the report is accurate. If the creditor does not verify this or ignores it, then the credit-reporting agency such as Experian has to take it off of your credit report.
For example, if on a credit report it says you owe XYZ collections for a Sprint cell phone account, and you never had a sprint cell phone account, you would dispute that first through the credit-reporting agency like Experian. If XYZ collections happens to verify this and that’s what comes back to you, then you have to go onto the next step, and that is to deal with XYZ collections directly. Once XYZ verified this account as accurate it will stay on your credit report(s).
Disputing with creditors and collection agencies
Now you have to deal with the creditor or collection agency. Send them a letter by certified or registered mail disputing the information they put on your credit report, they now need to validate this debt. You can also send them copies or proof that you have paid this debt. For more information, you can read dealing with a collection agency.
Sam Montana © 06 January 2009