Credit Reporting Issues
In a fundamental way, your credit report is related to your quality of life. The better your credit score, the better chance you have of acquiring things you need, such as a home, a car, a loan, insurance and even employment. A low credit score often means paying higher interest or premiums, which could end up pricing you out of the market. A good credit score is often key to your quality of life.
The concept of having inaccurate credit information removed from your credit report should not be confused with “credit repair.” Credit repair is a type of service that attempts to get accurate information taken off your credit report. This service is of questionable legitimacy and is NOT covered in these materials. By contrast, you DO have an absolute right to get inaccurate information taken off your credit report. The following information is intended to provide some helpful guidance in this respect.
How to Get Inaccurate Information Off Your Credit Report
There are three major credit reporting agencies (or bureaus) that compile credit information on all of us: Trans Union, Experian and Equifax. These companies receive their information primarily from businesses who have loaned us money. Any company that considers lending us money in the future will want to check our credit reports first to determine our risk factor in repaying the loan. If your credit report shows you’re keeping up with your payments and are not over-extended, your credit score will be high. If there are unpaid items appearing on your credit report, either because someone else put them there or because somebody in the chain of information simply made a mistake, your credit score will be lower than it should be.
The first step in getting inaccurate information removed from your credit report is to request a copy of your credit report from the three major credit bureaus. The names and telephone numbers are as follows:
Trans Union – (800) 888-4213
Equifax – (800) 685-1111
Experian – (888) 397-3742
Once you have identified the source of the inaccurate information, you will need to inform the credit bureaus, in writing, about your findings. It would also be a good idea (although not essential) to send a letter to the company that furnished the inaccurate information. Once your letters have been sent, the credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate. If the credit bureaus are unable to confirm the accuracy of the information within that time, they are required by law to remove it. If the bureaus improperly confirm the accuracy of the information, the bureaus themselves can be held liable for negligently or willfully reporting the information.
Other Things You Should Know About Your Credit Report
The following list is far from exhaustive, but here are a few things you should keep in mind about your credit report:
- A company may not pull your credit report more than once without getting your permission each time;
- All reported items will drop off your credit report after seven years;
- If your account is sold to another company, the seven year reporting period cannot be extended;
- A bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for ten years, but a civil judgment only for seven years;
- You can place a fraud alert on your credit report if you suspect you’re the victim of identity theft;
- You are entitled to receive one free credit report every year from each of the three credit reporting agencies (FreeCreditReport.com does NOT provide “free credit reports”);
- A person can be fined or imprisoned for improperly pulling your credit report.
Check your credit report often, and feel free to call us if you have any questions.