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Credit Reports

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What is a Credit Bureau?

FICO Information

How to Dispute Credit Report Errors


WHAT IS CREDIT BUREAU?

A credit bureau gathers information about how consumers use credit. In other words, they collect information from as many consumer financial transactions or inquiries as they can. They then sell access to that combined information to anyone who has a legally recognized reason. A major credit card company wants to promote a new credit card. They contact the credit bureaus and deliver a profile of the kind of person they think will be interested in the new card. The profile might include things like personal income, region or state the person lives in, number of credit cards, credit score, etc. The credit bureau then searches his or her records looking for anyone that matches that profile. If you fit the profile, an offer is mailed to you or someone calls you on the phone at inner time. It’s one of the ways the credit bureaus make money.

Contacting the Bureaus

Consumer Credit and Score Information
Equifax – P.O. Box 105851 – Atlanta, GA 30348 – (800) 655-1111 – www.equifax.com

Experian – P.O. Box 2104 – Allen, TX 75013 – (888) 397-3742 – www.experian.com

TransUnion – P.O. Box 1000 – Chester, PA 19022 – (800) 888-4213 – www.transunion.com

Risk Score Information

Fair Isaac Company
200 Smith Ranch Rd.
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 472-2211
www.fairisaac.com


FICO Scores

Fico scores are the key criterion for lenders/creditors to issue you a loan or line of credit.

Factors that Affect Your FICO Score:

Outstanding Accounts

The more the debt you have, the lower your FICO score because you are of higher risk to a lender/creditor.

Derogatory Information

Your entire credit history counts in your FICO score, but the past 2 years have the most weight.

Credit History

The longer your credit report history, the better.

The employment history on you credit report is also a factor. The longer you have been working for an employer, the better your credit score will be.

Be careful of having an open credit account (accounts that are open, with no debt, but have not been used for over one year). This may count against you when applying for any credit because a lender/creditor may say that you can theoretically max out that account and raise your income to debt ratio.

Use of Credit

The fewer the credit accounts open the better. If there are too many credit inquiries or credit checks in your credit report, the lender may think you are trying to open numerous accounts.

Typical FICO Scores

A++ 750 & Higher Excellent
A+ 680 to 750 Very Good
A 620 to 680 Good
B 580 to 680 Above Satisfactory
B- 550 to 580 Satisfactory
C 480 to 550 Below Satisfactory

How to Dispute Credit Report Errors

Your credit report–a type of consumer report–contains information about where you work and live and how you pay your bills. It also may show whether you’ve been sued or arrested or have filed for bankruptcy. Companies called consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) or credit bureaus, compile and sell your credit report to businesses. Because businesses use this information to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, and other purposes allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), it’s important that the information in your report is complete and accurate.

TheKreditKing.com suggests that you periodically review your credit report for inaccuracies or omissions. This could be especially important if you’re considering making a major purchase, such as buying a home. Checking in advance on the accuracy of information in your credit file could speed the credit-granting process.

Getting Your Credit Report

If you’ve been denied credit, insurance, or employment because of information supplied by a CRA, the FCRA says the company you applied to must give you the CRA’s name, address, and telephone number. If you contact the agency for a copy of your report within 60 days of receiving a denial notice, the report is free. In addition, you’re entitled to one free copy of your report a year if you certify in writing that (1) you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days, (2) you’re on welfare, or (3) your report is inaccurate because of fraud. Otherwise, a CRA may charge you up to $9.00 for a copy of your report.

If you simply want a copy of your report, call the CRAs listed in the Yellow Pages under “credit” or “credit rating and reporting.” Call each credit bureau listed since more than one agency may have a file on you, some with different information. The three major national credit bureaus are:

• Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241; (800) 685-1111.

• Experian (formerly TRW), P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013; (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742).

• Trans Union, P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022; (800) 916-8800.

Correcting Errors

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Under the FCRA, both the CRA and the organization that provided the information to the CRA, such as a bank or credit card company, have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights under the law, contact both the CRA and the information provider.

First, tell the CRA in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request deletion or correction. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Your letter may look something like the sample below. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the CRA received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.

CRAs must reinvestigate the items in question–usually within 30 days–unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information provider. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the CRA, it must investigate, review all relevant information provided by the CRA, and report the results to the CRA. If the information provider finds the disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs so they can correct this information in your file. Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.

If your report contains erroneous information, the CRA must correct it. If an item is incomplete, the CRA must complete it. For example, if your file showed that you were late making payments, but failed to show that you were no longer delinquent, the CRA must show that you’re current. If your file shows an account that belongs only to another person, the CRA must delete it.

When the reinvestigation is complete, the CRA must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, the CRA cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the CRA gives you a written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the provider.

Also, if you request, the CRA must send notices of corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. Job applicants can have a corrected copy of their report sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes. If a reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the CRA to include your statement of the dispute in your file and in future reports.

Second, in addition to writing to the CRA, tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Again, include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider then reports the item to any CRA, it must include a notice of your dispute. In addition, if you are correct-that is, if the disputed information is not accurate-the information provider may not use it again.

Accurate Negative Information

When negative information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can assure its removal. Accurate negative information can generally stay on your report for 7 years. There are certain exceptions: Information about criminal convictions may be reported without any time limitation. Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years. Credit information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more than $75,000 has no time limit. Credit information reported because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limit. Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. Criminal convictions can be reported without any time limit.

Adding Accounts to Your File

Your credit file may not reflect all your credit accounts. Although most national department store and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will be included in your file, not all creditors supply information to CRAs: some travel, entertainment, gasoline card companies, local retailers, and credit unions are among those creditors that don’t. If you’ve been told you were denied credit because of an “insufficient credit file” or “no credit file” and you have accounts with creditors that don’t appear in your credit file, ask the CRA to add this information to future reports. Although they are not required to do so, many CRAs will add verifiable accounts for a fee. You should, however, understand that if these creditors do not report to the CRA on a regular basis, these added items will not be updated in your file.

For More Information

For help evaluating your credit report, www.creditrepair.com is a service that can help you correct your credit report.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION FOR THE CONSUMER

1-877-FTC-HELP
www.ftc.gov

Sample Dispute Letter:

Date
Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code

Complaint Department
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute are also encircled on the attached copy of the report I received. (Identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)

This item is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.

Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please re-investigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.

Sincerely,
Your name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

This letter and information contained herein were taken from the Federal Trade Commissions website at www.ftc.gov and is intended for informational purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for specific legal advice relating to “repairing” or “rebuilding” your credit.

*All the text on this page is for informational purposes only. The text on this page should not be taken as set financial advice, but as a suggestion of advise from some peoples’ past experiences with credit.

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