The Ultimate Pocket Guide to Credit Report Issues
1. Adding a note to a credit report
One of the protections for consumers enshrined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act is the right to add a note to a negative item that’s in your credit report. This right can be exercised but you need to do it with caution and the commentary needs to be short and to the point.
2. Time length negative items stay on your credit report.
Negative items that appear on your credit report can obviously impact your credit score, so I’m often asked how long do these items stay on my credit report? Well that depends. It’s seven years from the last date upon which you made a payment on a defaulted credit card or other loan. It is also seven years otherwise from the date of which a judgement was later obtained on that defaulted loan. Likewise if that loan is written it can be seven years but from the date upon which that loan was written off. Finally, in the case of a bankruptcy, that stays on your report for ten years but criminal convictions only stay on your report for seven years.
3. Common Credit Report errors
There are a number of common errors in a credit report that you should look out for when you review your credit report. Some of these include a misspelling of your name or wrong address, the same name but a different person, debts of your ex-spouse’s, debts that you repaid, and these are just a few of the inaccuracies that I see often coming up in my clients’ credit reports.
4. Disputing an inaccurate item on a credit report.
Consumers have the right to dispute an item on their credit report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The way to do this is to file a form, F3, which is quite simple, and it’s best to do this on one of the three credit reporting agency’s web site as they’re required to report the inquiry to the other two agencies. There are two results: either they remove the item within three days from your credit report or they have the option of informing you they’re going to investigate the claim in which they have 45 days to get back to you with the results of their investigation. Now the investigation must attempt to look at all reasonable facts available to them. If it turns out you want to challenge a resulting investigation or finding it’s best to consult with an attorney.
5. Items that can negatively impact your credit score.
Clients ask me: what are the typical negative items that can impact my credit score? Well, there’s the obvious ones like bankruptcy or lawsuit being filed by your creditors against you. However, there are also some less obvious ones. One is too many credit inquiries. This can happen when you go to purchase a car and you go to multiple dealers. They sometimes will right off the top do a credit inquiry if you indicate that you might be borrowing money to purchase the car.
In addition, there are a lot of other ones. One is obviously, as we said, late payment. Another one is settling the debt for less than the full amount due. Finally, there’s a surprising one. That is if you close too many of your accounts, that too can lead into a reduction of your credit score. Why? There’s a ratio of your debt to available credit and obviously once you close a number of your credit accounts your debt to the credit available ratio goes down.
7. Obtaining a copy of your credit report.
One of the questions that I ask my clients when I first meet with them is: when was the last time you’ve reviewed your credit report? Consumers are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit agencies annually. The place to go get that report is annualcreditreport.com. There are many other sites when you put in those search terms that will offer you a free credit report, but watch out because they’re also attempting to sell you your credit score. The site that’s the best place and the authorized place to get your free annual credit report is annualcreditreport.com.
8. The importance of credit reports
A credit report contains information relevant to your past loans and your residence and your past payment history. There are three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. It is critical that you ensure that your credit report at each of these agencies is accurate and you have the right to request a free credit report from each of the agencies once a year. Why is accuracy reporting? Your credit report and your credit score can greatly impact your reputation, your employment prospects, the ability to get approved for a loan, the rate at which the loan is made and even whether you’ll be able to get insurance.
Are you being harassed by a debt collector over a debt you owe on your credit report? Let one of our dedicated attorneys guide you through the matter.