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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

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How to Check Your Credit Score

“Wondering how to check your credit score? Let us help. Read more below!”

Tips on How to Check Your Credit Score

Credit scores can be a scary thing. In a nutshell, they’re a specific number credit bureaus assign to you, one that quickly encapsulates your entire credit history and assesses your financial credibility as an individual. Although they’re merely comprised of a three-digit number between 300 and 850, they directly influence some of the most important financial facets of your life, from the mortgage rates on your home to the potential loans available to you as a student or a first-time car buyer. If that wasn’t enough, bad credit scores also make it tougher to start a small business, obtain insurance, and even obtain a job in some situations — an issue that has only become more pervasive since the economic collapse of ’08 and a general tightening of credit standards by regional banks.

Like most scores, you credit score is a culmination of multiple components (in this case five). The first and largest portion of your scores relies on your payment history — whether you’ve paid your bills on time or neglected them — but it’s quickly followed by the amount of money you owe, the amount and type of credit you possess, the length of your credit history and how long it has been since you last opened a credit line. Your given score is a crucial factor, if not the most important factor, potential money lenders use to evaluate your risk level. The higher the credit score or rating, the less risky you’ll likely appear and the greater the economic opportunity afforded to you will be. Or, you hope so, anyway.

However, although each of three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — offer a free copy of your credit report once a year in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, none of them offer free access to your official credit score unless you pay an upwards of $5. Thankfully, credit-monitoring websites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame offer free estimates of your credit score without adversely effecting your credit, whenever you’d like and as often as you’d like. It’s the closest thing to an official FICO score as you’re going to get.

Here’s our quick guide on how to check your credit score.

Check your credit report (and score estimate) using Credit Karma
Step 1: Create a Credit Karma account — Navigate to the main Credit Karma homepage, click the orange Get started now button and enter your appropriate email address and password before click the blue Next Step button to create a user account.

Step 2: Enter your personal information — Once directed to Step 2, enter your personal information in the resulting text fields, quickly listing your name, current address, birthday, and the last four digits of your social security number among other information. When finished, click the blue Next Step button to create a user account.

Step 3: Confirm your identity — Once directed to Step 3, confirm your identity by correctly answering the three or four resulting questions in order. To do so, check the bubble directly left of the correct answer below the corresponding question. Questions vary, but they often include information regarding your previous county of residence, loans and other pertinent information.

Step 4: View your credit score — Once properly completed, your TransUnion Credit Profile will be properly linked and verified. Generally, a score hovering around 650 is considered okay, with a score an upwards of 700 being good. Anything below 600 is trouble. More at HOW TO CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE

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