Read Your Credit Report Closely For Errors
Once you have received a credit report, it’s crucial to read it closely to verify that all of the following information is accurate:
- Personally identifiable information : Your name, address, SSN, date of birth, and employment information.
- Type of account , the date you opened the account, your or loan amount, the account balance, and your payment history .
- A list of everyone who has accessed your credit report within the last two years, including both soft and hard inquiries. When you apply for a loan, you’re giving the lender authorization to ask for a copy of your credit report.
- Public record and collections: can collect public record information from state and county courts, including bankruptcies. Additionally, if you have any overdue debt that was turned over to a collection agency, this will also appear on your credit report.
While it’s still a good idea to check for errors such as a variation of your name or an old address, personal information like this isn’t used to calculate your and, as such, isn’t as crucial to have corrected. However, if the name or address on your credit report don’t correspond to anything you go by or anywhere you’ve lived, respectively, then that could be a sign of some suspicious activity, such as identity theft.
How Often Can I Get A Free Report
Federal law gives you the right to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Through the pandemic, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from all three national credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Also, everyone in the U.S. can get six free credit reports per year through 2026 by visiting the Equifax website or by calling 1-866-349-5191. Thats in addition to the one free Equifax report you can get at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Why Should You Check Your Credit Score
You should check your credit score regularly to see where you stand, especially before putting in a major loan application. Reviewing your credit score before applying for a loan will give you an idea of whether you’ll get approved and the kind of interest rate you can expect. People with credit scores lower than 620 find it harder to get applications approved and are typically left with higher interest rates.
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What You Need To Know
- Public information – for example court judgments and insolvency records.
- If you apply for new credit, your credit report can affect the decision made by credit provider on what credit product or service you can get, the amount of credit you can obtain, and the price the lender offers.
- Lenders can also use your credit report to help decide what your credit limit should be, which they may review on a regular basis.
- Lenders scores. Lenders create their own scores. While they may use information obtained from CRAs, they will also use their own information and algorithms to help calculate their internal scores.
- CRA scores requested by the lender. Lenders may also use scores created by CRAs. These scores may be used to complement their own scores, or they may be the only scores that they use as part of their decision-making process.
- CRA scores requested by you. Some CRAs may be able to offer you a guide credit score to help you understand how lenders might assess your credit report information.
- Scores provided by other types of organisations. Many other organisations specialising in credit scoring can provide a score to a lender. These organisations will use data provided by one or more CRAs as a basis for their score. CRAs make sure that these organisations have robust systems to ensure data quality and security before they agree to share data with them.
Have Your Personal Information Ready
In order to request a credit report, you will have to provide several pieces of personal information, specifically your full name, date of birth, mailing address, Social Security number , and your previous mailing address. Additional information may be required to process your request, in which case the consumer credit reporting company you requested your credit report from will contact you by mail. As this information is used to identify you for the request process, omission of any information when filing by mail may delay your request.
Although most of this information should be known to you, some details may be harder to recall. While you can simply pause when filling out a mailing request form or an online application, failing to have all of this information on hand while making a request by phone could result in a slower application process or having to start over at a later time.
When requesting your credit report online, you will be asked several security questions about your finances that only you should be capable of answering . As these questions will vary from person to person, it can be difficult to adequately prepare for them. Note that, should you request your credit report by mail or phone, you may not be required to answer any security questions.
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How Do You Check Your Credit Report
On AnnualCreditReport.com you are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies. These agencies include Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing financial hardships. To remain in control of your finances, you can get free credit reports every week through April 2022.
Request all three reports at once or one at a time. Learn about other situations when you can request a free credit report.
Request Your Free Credit Report:
By Mail: Complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
If Your Request for a Free Credit Report is Denied:
Contact the CRA directly to try to resolve the issue. The CRA should tell you the reason they denied your request and explain what to do next. Often, you will only need to provide information that was missing or incorrect on your application for a free credit report.
If you can’t resolve your dispute with the CRA, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau .
Fixing Errors In A Credit Report
Anyone who denies you credit, housing, insurance, or a job because of a credit report must give you the name, address, and telephone number of the credit reporting agency that provided the report. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act , you have the right to request a free report within 60 days if a company denies you credit based on the report.
You can get your credit report fixed if it contains inaccurate or incomplete information:
- Contact both the credit reporting agency and the company that provided the information to the CRA.
- Tell the CRA, in writing, what information you believe is inaccurate. Keep a copy of all correspondence.
Some companies may promise to repair or fix your credit for an upfront fee–but there is no way to remove negative information in your credit report if it is accurate.
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Why Is It Important To Check My Credit Report
Its important to check your credit report because credit reporting mistakes happen. They can be the result of a creditor reporting inaccurate information or a sign of identity theft. If the error lowers your , it can decrease your approval odds when applying for a loan and it could prevent you from securing the best rate.
Dispute Errors On Your Credit Report
If your credit report has wrong information, you can dispute the error so that it is fixed. Here is how to dispute an error:
First, write a letter to the credit reporting companies that have the wrong information to ask them to fix the information. Include all of the following:
- Your name and address
- The specific information in your credit report that is wrong
- Why that information is wrong
- Copies of any receipts, emails, or other documents that support why the information is wrong and
- Ask that the information be deleted or corrected.
You may use the Federal Trade Commissions sample dispute letter to credit reporting companies and attach a copy of your credit report with the wrong items circled. Send the letter by certified mail or priority with tracking, and keep a copy of the letter and receipt.
If you cannot get the disputed information corrected or deleted, you may ask the credit reporting companies to add a statement noting your dispute in your file and in future credit reports.
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Does Checking My Credit Report Hurt My Credit Score
Checking your credit report is a soft credit check so it doesn’t affect your credit score. A soft credit check occurs when you check your own credit report or a creditor or lender checks your credit for pre-approval. A hard credit check occurs when a company checks your report when you apply for a line of credit.
Annualcreditreport.com is the only website legally authorized to fill orders for your free annual credit report. Any other website claiming to offer free credit reports” could be falsely claiming to be part of the free annual credit report program. Be mindful of websites trying to trick you with subtle differences.
Correct An Inaccuracy On Your Equifax Credit Report
If you find any information that you believe is inaccurate, incomplete or a result of fraud, you have the right to file a dispute with Equifax Canada. You will need to complete the enclosed with your package. You can also review how to dispute information on your credit report for additional details on the Equifax dispute process.
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Helping Consumers In The Context Of Covid
1. We are recording debt moratoria in a way that does not negatively impact credit files. The fact that credit reports are not negatively impacted by mortgage or other payment holidays means that consumers and businesses ability to get credit in the future should not be negatively impacted, other things being equal.
2. We are engaging directly with consumers to remind them about their right to ask for a free copy of their credit report, which should allow them to verify the accuracy of their credit histories in the light of the measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. We are offering our data analytics to governments / public authorities, to help them understand, anticipate and respond to the pandemic in order to minimize the financial stress on households and businesses.
Check out the ACCIS pubic position on COVID-19.
Any Entity With A Court Order
There is an exception to the “needing a legitimate business reason to pull your credit” rule. If an entity gets a court order to access your credit, it may do so. However, court orders arent easy to obtain, so its unlikely that your report will be given to someone who doesnt have a good reason to see it.
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For Your Informationmore Rights Concerning Credit Reports
We now have some expanded rights in getting mistakes on our credit report corrected:
- If you provide evidence of an error in your credit report, the mistake must be corrected.
- Providers of credit information are required to investigate all disputed charges and information.
- Disputed information, once removed from your credit file, cannot be reinserted unless it is found to be accurate at a later date.
- You have the right to remove your name from lists to be “pre-approved” for credit card offers.
- National credit bureaus must maintain staffed, toll-free telephone number services to respond to consumers’ inquiries.
The law restricts credit reporting agencies from using old or stale information in credit reports. The following is a list of some types of information that may not be kept in a credit report:
- Paid tax liens older than seven years
- Bankruptcies older than 10 years
- Accounts placed for collection or written off as a bad debt that are more than seven years old
- Arrest, indictment or conviction of a crime older than seven years, and lawsuits and judgments older than seven years or until the applicable statute of limitations has expired, whichever is longer
- Any other unfavorable information more than seven years old
When Will My Report Arrive
Depending on how you ordered it, you can get it right away or within 15 days
- online at AnnualCreditReport.com youll get access immediately
- using the Annual Credit Report Request Form itll be processed and mailed to you within 15 days of receipt of your request
It may take longer to get your report if the credit bureau needs more information to verify your identity.
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Order Your Free Credit Report
Consumers can get free copies of their credit report each year. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
At least once a year, review each one of your three credit reports to:
- ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date before you apply for a loan, lease a car, get a credit card, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
- help guard against identity theft. If identity thieves use your information to open new account in your name, those unpaid accounts get reported on your credit.
To order your FREE reports:
When Can Someone Check My Report
Federal law allows businesses to check your credit references, in the form of a credit report, before they agree to do business with you. However, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act strictly limits who can access your credit report and under what circumstances. In addition to providing you the ability to get a free copy of your own credit report, the FCRA lists the specific reasons others may get a copy of your credit report:
- When you apply for credit or insurance
- In connection with a business transaction initiated by you
- To extend a “preapproved” offer of credit or insurance
- When you apply for services such as utilities or cellphone accounts
- When a business has an existing credit or insurance relationship with you
- For employment purposes, with your written permission
- For the purposes of a potential investor assessing the risk of a current obligation
- When you apply for a license or other benefit granted by the government
- In connection with a child support determination
- In response to a court order or federal grand jury subpoena
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Whats On My Credit Reports
Your credit reports contain personal information, as well as a record of your overall . Lenders and creditors report account information, such as your payment history, credit inquiries and credit account balances, to the three main consumer credit bureaus. All of that information can make its way into your credit reports.
Much of whats found in your credit reports can impact whether youre approved for a credit card, mortgage, auto loan or other type of loan, along with the rates youll get. Even landlords may look at your credit when deciding whether to rent to you.
Lets dig into some of the main components of your credit reports.
Personal InformationThe personal information you might find on your credit reports includes your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number and any jobs youve held.
The credit bureaus use this personally identifiable information to ensure youre really you, but it doesnt factor into your credit scores. In fact, federal law prohibits credit scores from factoring in personal information such as your race, color, gender, religion, marital status or national origin.
That being said, its not necessarily true that the American financial system is unbiased or that credit lending and credit scoring systems dont consider factors affected by bias. To learn more about racial justice in lending and initiatives seeking to create change, connect with organizations leading the fight, like the ACLU.
Why Dont My Free Credit Reports Include Credit Scores
Your credit report and your credit score are not the same thing. Your credit report contains information that a credit reporting company has received about you. Your credit score is calculated by plugging the information in your credit report into a credit score formula. You may have multiple credit scores based upon who provided the score, and whether the company providing the score used their own scoring model or used a model available from a third party.
Federal law gives you the right to ask for a copy of your credit report from each nationwide credit reporting company every year for free. However, the law does not require the credit reporting companies to provide a free credit score.
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Review Your Report & Dispute Any Errors
Reading your credit report is one of the most vital steps when it comes to building credit and maintaining it. While reviewing your report, make sure your personal and account information is accurate.
Common credit reporting errors to look for include the following:
- Incorrect name or address
- Paid accounts that are listed as open
- Account balance or credit limit errors
- Accounts that dont belong to you
If you spot an error, dispute it with each credit bureau that lists it on your report or the creditor that reported it. The investigation will typically take 30 days to complete. Once its over, the credit bureau will remove the information if it finds that it is in fact an error.