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How to Dispute Credit Report

“Credit reporting errors can have an impact on your credit score and financial future.  These tips will help you on how to dispute credit report. Read them now!”

How to Dispute a Credit Report

When you get your credit report, you may find information on it that is not correct. When that happens, you’ll need to understand how to dispute an error on your credit report. Here, we will explain how mistakes wind up on credit reports and how to fix them.

Three major credit reporting agencies; Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, maintain credit information about consumers. These companies are competitors and they each collect and maintain their own individual reports about consumers. In other words, they don’t share information with each other. The data they collect is compiled into credit reports, also referred to as “credit files” or “credit histories.”

Your credit report is a record of how you’ve managed credit accounts, including credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, and personal loans. Some types of accounts – such as medical debt or utility accounts – are not usually reported unless those bills go to collections.

How do mistakes happen?
The details on your credit report has been supplied by creditors, and gathered from public record sources, such as the court system in the case of bankruptcies or judgments. If a creditor or other source that gathers this information makes a mistake (typing in an address wrong or Social Security number, for example), that error may wind up on your credit reports.

Also keep in mind that credit reports are only compiled when they are requested. When you or a creditor requests your credit report or credit score. To do that, the credit reporting agencies will try to “match” account information they have in their databases to the consumer for which the report has been ordered. Usually that process works fine, but sometimes information about relatives or other consumers with similar names can get mixed up with yours.

Finally, if you have been inconsistent in the information you’ve used when filling out applications (using different variations of your name or address, for example), that can show up as an error on your reports.

How do you correct mistakes on your credit report?
The first step in disputing a credit report mistake is to understand whether an item is wrong or not. That sounds logical but it can be trickier than you realize. For example, your credit report may list an inquiry from a company you don’t recognize, but if that company accessed your credit report, the credit reporting agency is legally obligated to report that inquiry. Or your report may show a collection account that you paid off. While you may think it should be removed because you paid it, under federal law it can be reported for up to seven years and six months from the date you fell behind with the original creditor, regardless of whether it has been paid. (Of course, a paid collection account should still be listed as paid.)

Once you have established that an item is wrong, you can dispute it. You can contact the lender (or collection agency) who is reporting the wrong information, the credit reporting agency that lists the mistake, or both. Asking the creditor to fix it may be the simplest approach, because if they do agree they made a mistake, they will be required to transmit the correction to all the agencies to which they report. That saves you the extra step of having to dispute it with other agencies that may be reporting the same incorrect information.

However, it’s also important to note that to protect your legal rights under federal law, you must send a written copy of your dispute to the credit reporting agencies, not just the creditor. Therefore, if you find a serious mistake or if you are having trouble getting an item corrected, make sure you also report the error directly to the credit bureau(s).

Online or By Mail?
If you ordered your reports online you will have the option of disputing it online or by mail.

Online disputes are fast and convenient; however, you may not be able to include documentation to back up your side of the story. So if you have proof that an item is wrong, you may want to send a written dispute and include the records you would like to them to review. If you do file a credit report dispute by mail, be sure to send it via certified mail and keep a copy for your records. More at How to Dispute Credit Report

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How to Get a Free Annual Credit Report

“Where and how can we get a free annual credit report? Read this now to find out!”

Getting a Free Annual Credit Report

All Americans are entitled to a free credit report every year, from each of the three major credit bureaus. The free credit reports, which used to cost as much as $9.50 each, come as a result of the passage of the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act.

Thanks to the law, the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, are each required to provide consumers, upon request, a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from a centralized source. This centralized source includes a Web site, a toll-free telephone number and a postal address.

The reports will not automatically be sent out. Consumers who want their credit reports must initiate the request in one of the following three ways.

1. Online:
Go to www.annualcreditreport.com, which is the only authorized source for consumers to access their annual credit report online for free. Be careful not to make a mistake in the URL — some opportunistic entrepreneurs have staked out the URLs that are close in spelling, and they’ll try to sell you the reports, instead of giving them for free.

2. By phone:
Call (877) 322-8228. This may be the choice for those who aren’t Internet-savvy.

3. By mail:
You may complete the form on the back of the Annual Credit Report Request brochure, and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.

You’ll be able to order all three credit reports at one time, or at different times throughout the year. It’s your choice. But be sure to order from the centralized agency. If you go directly to the credit reporting agencies, you will be charged unless you fit another criteria for a free report.

The 2003 law did not eliminate the other ways to receive a free credit report. You’re still entitled to a free credit report if: you’ve been denied a loan, insurance policy or job based on your credit report; you’re applying for unemployment or receive public assistance; and you currently reside in a state that already offers an annual free credit report from each credit reporting agency (Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Vermont. Georgia residents are entitled to two free annual credit reports from each credit reporting agency). More at How to get your free credit report

You can watch this video for more tips on how to get a Free Annual Credit Report:

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How to Check Credit Score for Free Tips

“Wondering how you can check credit score for free? Read these tips now!”

Ways to Check Credit Score for Free

The Fair Credit Reporting Act required consumer reporting agencies, like credit bureaus, to provide their records of you at least once ever twelve months. Since your credit report, and credit score, as so important in your financial life, it makes sense that the law mandates you are able to review it annually without cost. This is why credit experts recommend that you check your credit report at least once every twelve months for errors, omissions, or other inaccuracies so that your report is an accurate reflection of you.

There was one crucial aspect of the credit reporting system that the FCRA did not address—credit scores. When it comes to credit of any kind, whether it’s a mortgage or a new cell phone, your credit score is what creditors look at.

Oftentimes, when someone pulls your report they only get your FICO credit score. My friend is a landlord and when he pulls credit he only get their score and a few stoplight metrics like payment history and age of credit lines. He doesn’t get a full report.

It is only a matter of time before the credit score will be a required annual disclosure in conjunction with your credit report. Until then, the only way to see your credit score for free is to sign up for a credit monitoring service trial and canceling before the trial ends.

I won’t recommend any one service, they’re all pretty much the same, but I recommend one that promises to give you an official FICO credit score, not a credit bureau score. One reputable company is Fair Isaac Corporation, the originators of the FICO score, and they have a consumer facing site called myFICO (they always have plenty of myFICO promo codes flying around).

If you don’t go with Fair Isaac, choose one associated with one of the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). I don’t recommend signing up for these programs for no reason. If you are planning on getting a loan and are curious about how good your credit score is, then getting your official FICO score is important. It’s a soft inquiry so you won’t have to worry about taking a credit score hit.

If you aren’t planning on getting a loan, I wouldn’t worry about it. Checking your credit report annually is good enough and already more than what most people are doing. As long as your credit report is accurate, your score should be accurate. By checking your score prior to getting a loan, you give yourself a better idea of what your payments will likely be. More at How to Check Your Credit Score for Free

You can also watch this video for more tips on how to Check Credit Score for Free:

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