What about credit repair companies?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit repair companies cannot do
anything that you cannot do for yourself at little or no cost. You do not
have to pay a credit repair company to learn what is in your file or to
correct inaccurate or incomplete information.
No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a
credit report but you can obtain a copy of your credit reports and also
dispute mistakes or outdated items to a credit bureau.
What is Credit Fraud?
It is possible for thieves to cheat you and the people who give you credit.
They might steal your credit card and run up a big balance.
The more serious damage however is done by using your personal information
to obtain and use a credit card or loan. Unless you check your credit report
or find that you are denied credit, you may not even know that someone has
entered your financial world as you, but for their own benefit. Your credit
history can be damaged forever.
What are the signs of
- You receive bills for loan or credit
cards you did not or accounts you never requested.
- Your credit line is lowered for no reason.
- You are not able to get credit, even
though your credit history and financial situation are positive and you
were always able to get credit in the past.
Who can see my credit report?
Credit card companies, companies who need information in order to make a
decision about granting you a loan, your landlord, and your employer may
see your credit report, in addition to doctors, dentists, insurance
companies, lawyers, courts, and phone companies. You, as an individual
may only obtain a credit report on another individual if The Fair Credit
Reporting Act grants credit report access to companies which have a
"permissible purpose." The FCRA specifies those purposes as the granting
of credit, the collection of a debt, the underwriting of insurance,
employment purposes, for issuing a license as required by some government
agencies or for a legitimate business transaction between a business and a
consumer. Obtaining a credit report under false pretenses, or improper use
of a credit report is a violation of federal law. When privacy violations
occur, the credit reporting industry notifies the appropriate law enforcement
How long does bad credit history stay
on my credit report?
Most credit history stays on your file for a maximum of 7 years, except for
bankruptcies which stay on for 10 years, unpaid tax liens which remain for
15 years, and positive information which remains indefinitely. Still, if you
have defaulted on a loan, your creditors may continue to submit negative.
I do not have a credit card.
How can I obtain a credit report?
You cannot obtain a credit report online without a credit card since
companies use your credit card for verification purposes that you are
really "who" you are claiming to be.
Who is eligible for a free credit report?
Based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, sections 612 (b), (c), and (d),
you are entitled to one free credit report per year directly from a credit
reporting agency only if you certify that you are unemployed and seeking
employment in the next 60 days, you are receiving public assistance, or you
believe there are inaccuracies in your report due to fraud or have been
denied credit because of information on your credit report. To get your
free credit report, go directly to a credit reporting bureau and have
proof of the criteria that entitles you to receive your free credit report.
What information is included
in my credit report?
Your personal credit report contains such information as your name, current
and previous addresses, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth,
and current and previous employers. Your spouse's name may appear on your
version of the credit report, but it will not appear on the version that is
provided to others. This information comes from your credit applications, so
its accuracy depends on your filling out the forms clearly, completely and
consistently each time you apply for credit.
It will show specific information about each account such as the date opened,
credit limit or loan amount, balance, monthly payment and payment pattern
during the past several years. This information comes from companies that
do business with you.
It also shows federal district bankruptcy records and state and county court
records of tax liens and monetary judgments.
Your credit report will also show the names of those who have obtained a copy
of your credit report This information comes from the credit reporting agency.
Your credit report will show statements of dispute. These statements give
both consumers and creditors the opportunity to report the factual history
of an account. Statements of dispute can only be added after a consumer
officially disputes the status of an account, the account has been
reinvestigated, and the consumer and creditor cannot agree about the account
status. Both the consumer's and creditor's statements of the account status
will appear on the credit report.
Most credit reports do not contain data about race, religious preference,
personal lifestyle, political preference, medical history, friends, criminal
record or any other information unrelated to credit.
How often should I check
my credit report?
Since your credit report plays a major role when you apply for a credit
card, auto loan, mortgage, employment screening, utilities deposits and
insurance, it is to your advantage to know what is on your credit report
before applying for credit or a loan. Many financial experts agree that
you should check your credit report at least once a month. Creditors
generally send updates to the credit bureaus once every month. If your
credit report would show you to be risky to a prospective lender, it is a
good idea to try and clean the information up prior to applying for the
Because of the explosive growth of identity theft, it is especially
important to check periodically.
Do credit reporting agencies
maintain joint accounts for spouses?
No. The credit reporting agencies maintain individual credit files
for each U.S. resident. They do not maintain joint files for spouses.
Therefore, your credit report is separate and different from that of your
What is a credit score?
A credit score is a number lenders use to decide whether you will pay your
loan on time. It is generated through statistical models using elements
from your credit report. Your score is not physically stored as part of
your credit history on the credit file but instead is typically generated
at the time a lender requests your credit report and then included as part
of the report. Your credit score changes as the elements in your credit
report change. For example, payment updates or a new account could cause
your score to fluctuate. Credit scores are affected by such information as
the number and severity of late payments, type, number and age of accounts,
total debt, and recent inquiries.
What is a credit bureau?
Is Legal Helpmate a credit bureau?
A credit bureau is an agency that gathers information about consumer's
credit relationships and provides creditors with credit reports and scores
on consumers. Legal Helpmate is not a credit bureau but it uses them to
give you your credit report information.
Where does a credit bureau
get its information?
Credit Bureaus collect and organize information about you and your credit
history from public records, your creditors and other reliable sources.
How does three-bureau credit
report differ from a single-bureau credit report?
The three-bureau report includes your complete information from all
three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, & Trans Union. A single-bureau
credit report contains your information on file at only one of those
Do all three credit bureaus
have the same information on file?
No, because lenders send information to some and not others.
Credit bureaus receive so many pieces of data each month that mistakes are
definitely going to happen. Credit reports are available from three main
reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and they do not
exchange information with each other.
Will receiving my credit report through you appear as
an inquiry on my credit report?
Anytime your credit report is pulled - including when you order a copy of
your credit report directly from the credit bureau - an inquiry is added
to your report. Inquiries added when you request a copy of your credit report
or when an employer checks your credit report do not appear to creditors and
do not affect the calculation or your credit score. Inquiries initiated by
the consumer, such as mortgage, auto loan and credit card applications,
however, do affect your score because studies have shown that too many are
a red flag for credit risk.
What is a credit score range?
Credit scores range from 350 to 850 – a higher number represents a stronger
How does my
credit score affect me?
Credit scores, calculated from such information in your credit file as
total debt, types of accounts, number of late payments, age of accounts,
and number of inquiries, give lenders a subjective rating of your
creditworthiness. Lenders then consider this rating when deciding whether
or not to extend you credit.
Does co-signing a loan affect
my credit score?
Yes, any loan or credit card account affects your score.
How do I dispute and correct
Immediately call and write the credit bureau that reported the inaccurate
information (send by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep
copies). The bureau will then check with the original source. If this
inaccuracy persists, add a statement to the credit report specifying why
the item is wrong. This dispute process can take up to 30 days.