What is a credit report? Where does the information come from? Who uses it? Are you sure everything is O.K. with your credit report?
Once you’ve obtained a copy of your credit report, you’ll be able to see what your creditors are saying about you.
You can request your free credit report online, by phone or by mail. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call (877) 322-8228, or fill out the Annual Credit Report Request form and mail it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. No matter how you request your report, you have the option to request all three reports at once or to order one report at a time. A free credit report does not include a free credit score.
Now that you have your credit report, you look it over and you’re totally lost. You have no idea where to start or what the data even means. No worries! We at Debthelper.com are here to help.
What is a credit report?
A credit report is a record of your financial behavior that is kept by credit bureaus and provided to businesses when they want to evaluate potential borrowers. There are three national credit bureaus that maintain credit reports on consumers – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
What does a credit report include?
Most credit reports are broken down into the following categories:
- Personal information: Such as your name, address, Social Security number etc… Make sure this is correct and up-to-date. Credit problems and identity-theft scams often occur simply because credit agencies don’t know where you live or where you work.
- Account Information or Credit Summary: This is a rundown of your credit history, past and present. All your credit cards (excludes debit cards) appear on this record, even if they’re closed. Check each account record for things like late payments and unpaid balances.
- Inquiries: Can be broken down into “hard” and “soft” categories. “Hard” inquiries are requests from vendors, banks, rental agencies, etc., for your credit history. Too many of these in a short amount of time can downgrade your credit rating. Don’t let anyone pull your credit unless you’re absolutely sure. Only companies that have received your written authorization should be able to pull your credit history. “Soft” inquiries include promotions from vendors, pre-approved credit offers, and your own personal credit checks.
- Public Records: These cover bankruptcies, judgments, tax liens, and other government-related notices that affect your credit.
- Collections: The nastiest section of all, this covers any repossessions, collection agencies or unpaid debts you may have or have had.
- Dispute File Information: Here you can initiate a challenge to the CRA for them to update your records, remove inaccurate information, and so on.
How does information get on my report?
Credit card companies and lenders report your account information to credit bureaus electronically. Most companies send an update every 30 days. Other records are sent by the courts, tax agencies and post office.
How long does information stay on my report?
Most information stays on your credit report for 7 years. Bankruptcies 7-10 years; Charge-offs 7 years; Closed accounts 7 years if paid late, no expiration if the account was always paid on time. Collection accounts 7 years from the last late payment on the original account; Inquiries 2 years; late payments 7 years from the date of the late payment; Judgments 7 years from the filing date; Tax liens 15 or more years if left unpaid, 7 years from the date the lien is paid.
How long does information stay on my report?
You can remove inaccurate, fraudulent or expired information from your credit report by submitting a dispute to the credit bureau. Under the law the credit bureau has 30 days to verify the information is correct. If the bureau cannot verify the disputed information, it must be deleted from your credit report.
What can I do to manage my credit?
The most important thing you can do to keep your credit healthy is to check your credit report every 6 – 12 months. Regular credit checks help you to spot inaccuracies and signs of identity theft before they cause major financial damage. Keeping your credit reports healthy and positive can help you save thousands on life’s big purchases.
Debthelper.com is always available for any help or explanations you may need with your credit report. Our services are FREE. Call us today. (800) 920-2262.
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