Archive for January, 2010
Your free credit report is helpful to you in many ways. For instance, it helps you detect fraudulent activity and it also provides your creditors with information about your creditworthiness.
It can also help you plan for the future. This requires understanding what impact different portions of your credit score might have on you.
If you are a person who happens to be currently in the process of rebuilding your credit, your free report is one of your best guides. It can help you in the following ways:
- It can show you how the size and number of debts you have affects your credit score. Incidentally, it is not the amount of the debts but the number of them that you have that matters.
- If you show on your financial records that the balanced on your credit card limits is less than 25% of the maximum, this helps increase your creditworthiness. Thus, you have a higher score.
- The number of inquiries you make regarding your free credit report while shopping also matters. If you have more than three on your record at any given time this can count against you. You should be careful how many times you make an inquiry about your credit within 90 days.
- Your financial records can also assist you in changing your spending habits. It shows you how you use credit and it will help you cut down on trying to obtain it in the future.
Correcting inaccurate information on your credit report can help you immensely. The first step would be to check the expiration date of the records.
Then, you can create a dispute letter and send it to all three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). Before you do so, you probably will need to take other steps to analyze your credit though as indicated in the following steps:
- Order your free credit reports from all three bureaus, of which you are entitled one copy per year. Print each out and review it carefully.
- If you spot any information while reviewing printouts of your credit report spot any inaccurate information that could have an effect on you. You should be particularly concerned if it causes a decline of your credit score.
- Documents you can use while you examine the accuracy of your credit report include as follows: Bankruptcy filing records (items marked “BK” for up to seven years), charge-off notes (notes indicating creditor has wrote off your debt as a loss), and collection records (usually remains on your record for up to 7 years after the last 180 day late payment).
- You can also take a look at closed accounts. These expire after 7 years as well. Closed positive accounts might remain on your record for longer.
- Foreclosed accounts, inquiries, judgments, late payments, repossessions, and tax liens, also affect your credit. You should take a look at any records concerning these very carefully.
- Once you have examined all your records carefully, this is when you would possibly file a dispute. You can submit your dispute to Equifax and TransUnion by mail, and you can do the same but only online instead of mail when using Experian.
- Once your dispute is submitted, then you can let the credit bureaus investigate. You can track these results, as all three financial bureaus have a responsibility to investigate claims made by you within 30 days.
There really are ways to get a free credit report instantly, but these supposed “free” credit reports could cost you. Among the list of confusing marketing tactics are those pertaining to the retrieval of your financial history and payment records-and credit score.
A list of the marketing tactics used by companies who offer supposedly free credit reports include as follows:
- Oftentimes companies will offer a free trial of a service that is designed to help you monitor your credit. However, it can be very easy to forget that the advertisers of these services asked you for your credit card number or PayPal account and you can run up a bill in no time.
- If you have signed up for a free trial, you might be paying a pretty penny for services you do not need when that trial is over. Sometimes you can expect to pay $20 to $30 for services you could otherwise get free according to the Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA).
- Consumers are entices by “free credit report” offers and then later are coaxed into signing up for services inconsistent with the regulation standards of the Better Business Bureau or Federal Trade Commission.
- In the worst-case scenario, people have signed up for what they thought was a legitimate place to get a free credit report. However, what ended up happening is they got ripped off.
This is not to say that credit-monitoring services do not offer worthwhile assistance to people. You should just watch out because you could end up paying for services that are unnecessary.
Most people are used to getting charged for everything that they are surprised when they hear that you can actually get a free credit report. This is mainly because of recent legislation passed that allows you one report every 12 months from all three credit bureaus.
There is one site for sure where you can get free credit reports. This is called Annual Credit Report.com. Here is where U.S. citizens can obtain one disclosure of their financial records every 12 months from these three agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
You can also seek information at this website as well as at the Federal Trade Commission website on how to report fraud. There is a such thing as an initial fraud alert which stays on your credit report for at least 90 days, and the extended alert lasts up to seven years.
There are numerous other sites that claim to offer free credit reports. However, most of these are seven-day free trials with very ambiguous terms of services and cancellation policies. There are some exceptions of course.
Beware also that you should not have to pay to put a fraud alert on your file. If you are for some reason being required to do so, you are being ripped off. Beware of this according to your federal rights.
If you want to learn more about your rights as a consumer you can read the This info about the Fair Credit Report Act or you can visit the Federal Trade Comission website.