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Your Credit Report

Your Credit Report

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Your credit report is based on your credit history and dictates your credit future.

If you have ever applied for credit or a loan, taken out insurance, or applied for a job you probably have a credit report. You may have three different credit reports, each maintained by one of the three main Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs), Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. They contain information about what credit cards you have or have had, information about your loans, and your re-payment history. It also will show if you've ever been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy.

Lenders and banks use a credit score, calculated from information in your credit reports. They use this score to determine if you can afford more credit and to ascertain if you are a good credit risk. The interest rates you get on car loans and credit cards may be based entirely on this report.

One problem, is that even if you have never bounced a check or been late on a payment, your credit report may not be as clean as you might think. People can be denied credit due to errors in their credit report through no fault of their own. Individuals may request a free copy of their credit report once a year, so if you've had credit issues it may be worthwhile to check your report and contest any mistakes. Also, be sure to check your report at all three CRAs, since they can vary significantly.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have several rights related to your credit report...
  • You have the right to receive a copy of your credit report. The copy of your report must contain all of the information in your file at the time of your request.
  • You have the right to know the name of anyone who received your credit report in the last year for most purposes or in the last two years for employment purposes.
  • Any company that denies your application must supply the name and address of the CRA they contacted, provided the denial was based on information given by the CRA.
  • You have the right to a free copy of your credit report when your application is denied because of information supplied by the CRA. Your request must be made within 60 days of receiving your denial notice.
  • If you contest the completeness or accuracy of information in your report, you should file a dispute with the CRA and with the company that furnished the information to the CRA. Both the CRA and the furnisher of information are legally obligated to reinvestigate your dispute.
  • You have a right to add a summary explanation to your credit report if your dispute is not resolved to your satisfaction.

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