STEP 1: Pull your Credit Report
Pull your credit at least three times a year. Each of the three credit bureau reporting agencies allows you to obtain one free credit report per year. So each quarter request your credit report from a different reporting agency. You can also request a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Their website is sponsored by all three credit reporting agencies. This site will only let you pull your credit report once per year. In essence using this service you can pull your credit report for free four times a year.
STEP 2: Review Your Credit Report
When you pull your credit report, be sure to check it. Here is a guideline on what you should be looking for in your credit report:
1. Public Records to see if there are any judgments or liens that do not belong to you;
2. The “Potentially Negative” items section to be sure that each of these is appropriate;
3. Your trade lines to be sure that all of them belong to you. Then check the payment history to be sure that your creditors are reporting all of the payments that you have made, and that they are being reported correctly;
4. Check the bottom of your report to see who has pulled your credit report. Every time someone pulls your credit report, it leaves a “foot print” showing the name of the company and the reason why it was pulled. If you did not authorize any of these credit reports to be pulled on you, then your rights have been violated and your credit score may be adversely affected.
Post a dispute to anything that is not accurate about your credit report. Tell the reporting agency and your creditor what the mistake is on your credit report. BE SPECIFIC. Be sure to attach as many documents as you need to prove your point. We recommend you submit “certified copies” not the originals. You should always keep your originals in a safe place.
For example: If you went through bankruptcy and a pre-bankruptcy trade line is showing a balance due, dispute that trade line and attach a copy of your notice of discharge from the bankruptcy court. While it is tempting to post your disputes on line, you are far better off presenting your dispute in writing, and having it sent via certified mail. Be sure to keep a copy of your dispute letter and all your supporting documents you sent. It will be your proof that you made your dispute to the credit reporting agency should you have to file a lawsuit.
If you have posted a dispute with the Credit Reporting Agency about an inaccuracy on your credit report, follow up with the agency if you do not receive a response after 30 days. The credit reporting agencies receive and investigate thousands of disputes per day. It is easy for one to get lost somewhere.
CREDIT REPORT PROBLEMS
Are there errors on your credit report that are depressing your credit score, and you? Here are some of the common causes for credit report errors:
Credit Reporting Agencies such as Trans Union, Experian and Equifax frequently make mistakes on consumer’s credit reports. About 70% of consumer credit reports contain some mistake. Chances are excellent that your credit report contains an error. Approximately 20% of these mistakes result in the denial of credit or a higher rate of interest. Some of the more common mistakes made by the credit reporting agencies include:
Identity Theft: This type of error is growing exponentially and may be the number one cause for credit reporting mistakes today.
Mis-merged Information: This kind of error occurs between different people with the same name. For Example: Robert J. Smith who lives in Montana may have his credit information placed on Robert J. Smith who live in Florida. This is a very common mistake.
Discrepancies amongst credit reporting agencies for the same debt. One credit reporting agency may report a debt as current while another agency might report it as delinquent.
Derogatory credit information has to be removed from your credit report after seven years from the first delinquency. Sometimes a debt buyer or a collection agency will “re-date” a date of last delinquency so that the derogatory comment stays on your credit report longer than the seven years. THIS IS ILLEGAL, and report them to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
A DELINQUENT DEBT MAY NOT BE REPORTED LONGER THAN 7 YEARS ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT.