Just as a yearly check-up with your doctor is good for your physical health, taking an annual look at your credit report is good for your financial well-being.
Consumers are entitled to receive one free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three main consumer reporting agencies – – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
You can request your reports in one of three ways:
- Visit: AnnualCreditReport.com
- Call: 877-322-8228
- Print the form on the website listed above and mail the completed form to:
Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
You will be asked to provide two forms of identification, such as a current driver’s license, paystub or utility bill, to get your reports.
Request your report from each Transunion, Experian and Equifax. You may get all three reports at once or request them individually. By doing it separately – getting, say, one report every four months – you can keep tabs on your credit throughout the year.
Why do I need to check my credit report?
When you apply for credit for things such as a car loan or a new credit card, your lender will use your report to gauge your creditworthiness.
Credit furnishers, such as lenders, credit card companies and debt collectors submit account updates to Transunion, Experian and Equifax . However, not all information is updated by all bureaus at the same time of the month. This means your information may vary from report to report.
Nevertheless, it’s important to stay on top of your credit report. Negative information – such as late payments, collections or judgments — can harm your chances of getting approved for new credit, especially when it can remain on your file for up to 7 1/2 years.
Remember, before applying for new credit, check all three credit reports for accuracy. If there is an error, get it corrected immediately. Don’t let inaccurate information keep you from getting the loan you want with the most favorable credit terms.
What errors should I look for on my credit report?
Once you get a copy of your report, the first thing to do is to make sure you recognize all the accounts listed. If there is a listing you don’t recognize, write to the creditor and the credit bureau to dispute the listing and request documentation related to the account. You may be a victim of identity theft.
Some errors to keep an eye out for include:
- Multiple entries on the same account
- Closed accounts shown as open
- Inaccurate information that’s been re-inserted
- Re-aged debt, or accounts that should have been removed from your report after the 7 ½ year mark
- Mis-merged files which show someone else’s information on your report.
- Accounts that you do not recognize.
What if I find errors on my credit report?
If you find errors on your reports, you must send written disputes to the bureaus. Your letter should clearly identify the error, state why is should be updated or removed, and include documents that support your claim. The bureaus have 30 days to respond to your dispute.
What if the credit bureau will not correct my report?
If you have disputed errors with the credit bureaus and they continue to list the error, you may have a legal claim under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This federal statute offers protections to consumers for incorrect information that is maintained by credit reporting agencies, including Transunion, Experian and Equifax, as well as agencies that maintain medical, employment and rental history records. Under the law, your records are to be kept private and accurate.
Do I need legal help to get my credit report corrected?
Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm and has represented consumers throughout PA, NJ and NY in matters where the credit bureaus and the furnishers of credit information, have violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Contact us today to learn more about how we can pursue a lawsuit against the credit bureaus and get errors removed from your reports.