Your credit report contains information about where you work, live and how you pay your bills (On time or not). It also may show whether you've been sued, arrested or have filed for bankruptcy with in the last 10 years. Companies called consumer reporting agencies (cra) or credit bureaus compile and sell your credit report to businesses all over the world.
Many financial advisors suggest 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, clean credit is a must.
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.
Whenever you apply for any type of credit or financing, a credit report is pulled from at least one of the three major credit bureaus. You want a clean credit report to be pulled. While there are hundreds of smaller credit bureaus around the country, virtually every credit bureau is affiliated with either Experian, Trans Union, or Equifax.
Getting Your Clean Credit Report
If you've been denied credit, insurance, or employment because of information supplied by a credit reporting agency, the FCRA says the company you applied to must give you the agency`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 simply want a copy of your report, 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, PO Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241; (800) 685-1111.
Experian (formerly TRW), PO Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013; (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742).
Trans Union, PO Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022; (800) 916-8800.
Correcting Errors For Clean Credit.
To protect all your rights under the law and to keep your credit clean contact both the CRA and the information provider.
First to get clean credit reports, tell the credit reporting agency in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies (please keep your 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. Always keep copies of your dispute letter.
They 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, then you will receive a clean credit report, with that item removed.
If your report contains erroneous information, the CRA must correct it (clean credit).
If an item is incomplete, the CRA must complete it. For example, if your file showed that you were late making payments (30 days or more), 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, they must give you the written results and a free copy of your clean credit report, if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or removed, they cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies its accuracy and completeness.
Also, if you request, they must send notices of clean credit report corrections to anyone who received your report in the past six months. Job applicants can have a corrected copy of their clean credit 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 credit agency, tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Again, include copies (please not originals) of documents that support your position. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider then reports the item to any credit reporting angency, 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, thus you will have a clean credit report.
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.
Clean Credit: There are certain exceptions:
Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years.
Information about criminal convictions may be reported without any time limitation.
Credit information reported in response to an application for a job with a salary of more than $ 75,000 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.
Credit information reported because of an application for more than $ 150,000 worth of credit or life insurance has no time limit.
Adding clean credit accounts to your file:
Your credit file may not reflect all your clean credit accounts. Although most national department stores and all-purpose bank credit card accounts will be included in your file, not all creditors supply information: Some travel, entertainment, gasoline card companies, local retailers, and credit unions are among those creditors that don't report clean credit.
If you've been told you were denied clean 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. This will help get you on the road to a clean credit report. 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.