Here are a few things to know about your credit report:
- Why is it Important to Pull My Credit Reports? – It is important to pull your credit report for a variety of reasons. You should check it at least once a year to monitor for errors, fraud, or maybe a debt that you simply forgot about. As reported in a post in February, the Federal Trade Commission released the results of a study that took over eight years to complete. Included in the study were some interesting, if not scary, numbers, including the fact that 26 percent of credit reports have errors, as was reported by Forbes.
- How Do I Pull My Credit Reports? – You can get your free report by visiting annualcreditreport.com. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide credit bureaus to provide you with a FREE copy of your credit report at your request, once every 12 months (once a year), according to the Federal Trade Commission’s website. While the report is free, there is a charge if you want to receive a copy of your credit score.
- Does Pulling My Credit Report Myself Hurt My Credit? – The short answer is “no.” You can pull your report for your own knowledge every day if you want to. This is known as a soft inquiry. Soft inquiries are made by the individual for personal use and by companies in order to pre-screen you for marketing and/ or credit offers. When you open your mail and receive pre-approved credit card offers, the company has already looked at your credit report. It’s important to realize that soft inquiries, regardless of the number, won’t affect your credit score. However, 10 percent of your FICO score is attributed to hard inquiries. These inquiries are approved by you to the lender for the purpose of applying for new credit, renting an apartment, auto loan, etc. Having too many hard inquiries over a short period of time can have negative impact on credit scores, albeit not much. Remember, your credit score is made up of many different variables.
- What Information is on My Credit Report? – Your credit report is a credit history. It is created by data about you from many different sources. Companies that have granted you credit make regular reports about your accounts to the three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Your credit report contains your name and any name variations, your address and previous addresses, telephone number, Social Security number, year and month of birth, and employment information (not always updated). Information in your report also includes matters of public record, such as civil judgments, tax liens, and bankruptcies.
- Who’s Looking at My Reports? – Banks and credit card companies make a profit by loaning money to consumers and then collecting interest on the loan amount. When you apply for a loan or credit card, your lender reviews your credit report to determine how likely you are to repay your debt responsibly. The lender then assigns you an interest rate based on your risk level, a process known as price-based risk assessment. Your credit report contains all of the information your lender needs to conduct a price-based risk assessment. Although many lenders will ask you for your permission before pulling and reviewing your credit report, they are not legally required to do so.
- How Do I Dispute Incorrect or Old Information on My Credit Report – If there are errors, take these steps to try and get them removed.
- Gather Documentation –Take the time to gather all of the information that you will need to prove your case, such as copies of canceled checks and creditor statements. For instance, if one of your reports shows that you have a missed payment in June and you know that is incorrect, find the statement online and use it as documentation.
- Make Sure You Put it in Writing – Follow up with a phone call and a letter, which includes all of the details discussed. Attach copies of documents that support your claim and send it via certified mail. Also, follow up with the same steps when filling out the “dispute” section of the bureaus’ website.
- Follow Up – The agencies have 30 days to investigate your dispute as well as report it to the creditor who initiated the entry. They will also have to investigate it within the 30-day period. If the creditor finds the mistake, they have to report it immediately to the three bureaus. If they do not respond in that 30-day period, that credit bureau has to delete the entry. If the dispute does not go your way, you have the right to have your dispute made public on your report. This won’t help your score, but it may help with future lenders.
Have patience!!! It can be a long, bumpy road!