How to Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

Credit Report on Tablet

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.

Continue reading How to Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

How to Deal with an Experian Dispute

Credit Report

It’s something that’s drilled into our heads over and over: You must maintain a good credit score.

But sometimes errors can pop up on our credit reports through no fault of our own. When that happens, it’s important to take steps to fix these errors as soon as possible.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to do that using the example of one of the three main credit reporting services, Experian. Here’s how to deal with an Experian dispute.

Continue reading How to Deal with an Experian Dispute

U.S. Servicemembers: Strengthen Your Credit

Military life is one of frequent transitions. Each deployment, promotion, and change in duty status brings the need to make money-related decisions. These financial decisions can have long-term effects on family life, mission readiness, and security clearances.

Service members often run into trouble because of the irregularities in their daily life. They may tend to overspend and receive contact from debt collectors. They may fall for financial scams and become a victim of identity theft. Or, due to errors on credit reports, they may be denied loans or have a vehicle repossessed. Learning more about consumer credit and how to build a strong credit history can help servicemembers and veterans improve their financial health.

Take Advantage of Free Credit Reports

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re allowed one free credit report from each bureau – Transunion, Experian, and Equifax – within a twelve month period. Send a letter to one of the bureaus and request your reports. Review them carefully to ensure that there are no errors and that you recognize all of the listed accounts. 

Credit Accuracy

Credit reports include personal information, credit history, credit inquiries, and public records.  Credit cards, mortgages, and loans are all listed along with the payment status. If you fall behind on payments or default on a loan, your credit report will list this negatively. Negative entries may make it more difficult for you to open a new line of credit, be approved for a new loan, or receive a promotion or security clearance. It may also mean that you will be approved for a loan, but with a higher interest rate.

Credit Privacy

Regular credit report checks help you monitor your accounts and determine whether someone has accessed your credit report without your permission or opened accounts in your name. If you notice suspicious activity, information that does not belong to you, or believe you have become a victim of identity theft, follow these steps:
  -Contact the Bank or Creditor
  -File a Police Report
  -File a Fraud Alert
  -Request your current credit reports
  -File an Identity Theft Affidavit with the Federal Trade Commission
  -Keep an organized file with all correspondence and records
  -Protect your personal information.  Keep it private.

Know How Much You Spend

A budget helps you see where you can cut back on spending and create a workable plan to pay off debt.Take the time to set a budget. Divide your regular expenses into categories for housing, food, transportation, health care, personal & family and finances. Determine how much you can afford to spend on each category every month. Use a spreadsheet or online tool to keep track of all of your accounts and expenses. 

Be Aware of Scams

Follow your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unfortunately, service members are frequent targets for various scams. Companies or organizations could call and claim to belong to a veterans group or another legitimate sounding organization. Be sure to research the organization, find out where they’re located, see if there is a complaint board online, and investigate whether the company is reputable. 

Be cautious. If you receive a call from someone, do not provide any personal identifying information, such as your social security number or date of birth, or access to bank accounts or credit and debit cards.  Require them to provide you with something in writing that states who they are and where they are located.

Financial Guidance for Service Members

Remember, you’re not alone. There are many services offered through the Department of Defense and veterans organizations to help service members keep finances on track. Do your research and make a financial plan that is right for you.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that assists victims of identity theft that have suffered from credit report harm, abusive debt collectors and wrongful vehicle repossessions by aggressive lenders and repo agents.  Contact Us for a no cost consultation to discuss whether your consumer rights have been violated.

 

 

How to Monitor Your Credit

Your credit history plays an important role in your ability to get approved for new lines of credit, whether it’s a new credit card, a personal loan, or another type of borrowing agreement. It also affects your ability to rent an apartment, or possibly be hired or promoted in your job.

Review Credit Reports & Dispute Errors

Do not wait until you’re ready to apply for a loan to check your credit. Monitor your credit reports regularly to see that your information is accurately reported.  If there is an error, send written disputes to the credit bureau.  You do not want to be denied for a loan because of someone else’s error. Credit applications are considered hard inquiries on your credit file, and denials could result in lowering your credit score.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims with credit reporting privacy and accuracy problems. Contact Us for a free consultation to discuss errors on your credit reports.

Credit Report Listings with Negative Impact

Your credit report plays a critical role in your overall financial health. The information that it contains will affect your ability to get new lines of credit for auto or personal loans, rent an apartment, and sometimes even get a job or promotion. It’s important to understand all of the information on your report and what types of negative listings may appear.

Every person’s credit report has the following:

  • Personal information.  Your name, current and previous addresses, social security number, date of birth, and possibly current and previous employers.
  • Credit accounts.  Current and previous credit accounts including details such as payment history, credit limit, monthly payment amount, and current balance. Auto loans, student loans, credit cards, and any other type of credit accounts in your name will be listed.
  • Inquiries. Hard inquiries are listed on your report when there is an application for new credit, and may remain on your report for up to two years. Several hard inquiries, which may be viewed by a lender as high risk, may lower your credit score and impact your ability to be approved for credit.  Soft inquiries are listed by companies offering to promote a special product or service and do not hold negative weight on your report.
  • Negative listings and public records. Late payments, debt, accounts in collection, repossessions, accounts in default, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and judgments are all listed on your credit report. Negative information can stay on your report for up to seven years and will lower your credit score. It may make it more difficult to get approved for new credit, or could result in higher interest rates on any loans or credit.

What you can do about negative listings

Negative listings on your credit report are frustrating, especially if you’re making an effort to improve your financial situation.  Take steps to pay down debt over time.

-Monitor your credit reports
-Dispute errors with the credit bureau and credit furnisher
-Pay your bills in full and on time
-Make a budget and stick to it

These positive actions will help improve your credit and show that you’re on the right track, even while the negative listings remain.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of car repossession, credit reporting errors and unfair debt collection practices.  Contact Us for a free consultation to determine whether your consumer rights were violated.

How to Get a Job When You Have Poor Credit

Finding a new job can feel like a full time job in itself. First identifying companies and positions, then prepare your resume and cover letters.

The next most important step is to check your credit reports.

Employers usually check credit reports during the hiring process as a means to gauge the applicant’s responsibility with finances. Not all employers check credit reports during the employment screening process. But those that do, often check for positions that involve a security clearance, access to money, sensitive customer data or confidential company information.

An employment screening report only includes your account payment record, how much you owe, and your available credit. Potential employers can’t see your credit score. Follow these steps to prepare your credit before applying for a new job.

1. Obtain current credit reports

When you start looking for a new job, get a copy of your credit report. You should know appears on your report before a prospective employer obtains a copy. You can get a free report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus – Transunion, Experian and Equifax.

Review your reports for accuracy. If you see errors, dispute them directly with the reporting bureau. If you have negative listings like a car repossession or defaulted account, these should only stay on your report for 7 1/2 years.

2. Ask employer about credit checks

If you have negative credit listings and you’re concerned about the role they’ll play in your job search, contact your target companies anonymously and ask if they check credit as part of their candidate screening process. If you think it will be an issue, you might choose not to spend time on applications for a company that asks for your credit history.

3. Know your rights

Potential employers can ask for a copy of your credit file. However, there are guidelines that must be followed.
1) You must provide written permission for a company to request your report.
2) The company must notify you of the company that provide the employment screening report.
3) You may write to the screening report company to request a copy of the report that was used in the employment hiring process.

4. Take steps to improve your credit

Your job search will be easier in the future if you don’t have to worry about how your credit might affect your eligibility. Be proactive and evaluate your credit before applying for that new job.

-Review your credit file in advance.
-Make bill payments in full and on time.
-Use less than thirty percent of the credit that’s available to you.
-Maintain a healthy debt-to-income ratio.
-Dispute errors on your credit reports.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims with credit reporting accuracy problems.  Contact Us for a free legal review of your credit reports and an evaluation of whether your consumer rights were violated.

 

Are You Credit Invisible?

If you hear the term “credit invisible” it means that you may not have credit files  with the nationwide credit reporting agencies — Transunion, Experian and Equifax — or that the information that exists on your credit reports is very limited.

Credit invisibility doesn’t only apply to young individuals who haven’t built up their history yet. It can also apply to older individuals who have stopped using credit, or to Americans who live abroad and don’t keep their U.S. credit accounts active.

Lacking Credit History

Credit invisibility can be detrimental for a number of reasons. Lacking credit history can make it difficult or impossible to secure new lines of credit. This means you may not be able to get a loan for the house or car you want, or open a new credit card account. It could also make it more difficult for you to rent an apartment or get hired for a job.

Keep your credit files up-to-date

Stay up to date with your credit standing by checking your report regularly. Consumers may obtain credit reports from Transunion, Experian, and Equifax every twelve months for free. We recommend that you request your reports from the credit bureaus in writing and have them mailed to you. You should enclose two forms of identification, such as a current driver’s license and utility bill, with your request. Once you have your reports, review your information to make sure that all of your information is accurate.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally-recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of inaccurate credit report listings. Contact us for a free legal evaluation of errors that appear on your report.

Credit Scores and Credit Repair…not a Quick Fix

A high credit score makes many aspects of our lives more simple. It may be easier to purchase a home or car, secure a new line of credit, rent an apartment, or possibly be hired for a job or awarded a promotion.

What is a good credit score?

A credit score of 800 and above is considered excellent and indicates that the consumer not only uses credit, but pays bills in full and on time. A  score in the 700s is considered good, however there may be some negative listing on the credit report such as late payments. Scores falling in the 600s are considered fair and may represent denial of a loan, or possibly approval but with lower credit limits or higher interest rates . Lower scores indicate to lenders that the consumer is a high credit risk and either, the consumer may be denied, or credit would be offered with unfavorable terms.

Credit score ranges

Image via Experian.com

Consumers with poor credit may seek ways to repair and improve their credit scores quickly. However, it’s a process that takes time and responsible financial management.  Paying bills in full and on time, maintaining a low credit utilization, and paying off debt are critical steps.  Also, a regular review of your credit report for accuracy is important.  Every twelve months consumers are entitled to a free report from each, Transunion, Experian and Equifax.  If there are errors listed on the credit report, the consumer should promptly dispute the errors.

Send your dispute letter to the bureau by US Mail with an explanation of the error and documents that support your claim.  Be sure to keep a complete copy of your dispute.  The credit bureaus have 30 days to respond to disputes.  The bureau does not correct the error, you may need to re-dispute until your report has been corrected.

Seek Legal Help

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of credit reporting errors by credit data furnishers and the credit bureaus.  Contact us  for a free evaluation of your credit report errors for a potential violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

What You Should Know About Employment Credit Checks

Be sure to request your credit report and verify that your credit history is up to date and accurate before seeking a new job. Prospective employers often run credit checks on potential employees prior to making hiring decisions, and negative listings could hurt your chances for employment or a promotion. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is the law that requires employers to obtain a prospective hire’s consent prior to pulling a credit file.

Employers Must Obtain Permission

Employers must obtain your written permission before they can access your credit file. During the application process, the employer should provide you with background check disclosure and authorization forms that require your signature.

Easy to Understand Forms

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that these authorization forms should be free of “complicated legal jargon” or “extra acknowledgement or waivers.” You should never feel confused or misled when it comes to authorization forms that an employer or prospective employer provides in order to get your consent to view your credit.

Your Right to View the Report

You also have the right to see the report that the employer used as a means to determine your employment. You should inform the prospective employer that you want to have a copy whether you are hired or not.

Seek Legal Advice

Flitter Milz is a nationally recognized consumer protection law firm that represents victims of inaccurate credit reporting. Contact us for a free evaluation of your reports.