How to Monitor Your Credit Reports
Tue, 06/03/2014 - 1:37pm | by Helen Hoart
Have you been turned down for a loan or a credit card? If that’s happened to you, it’s time to take action to repair your credit. Here’s what you need to know about your rights when it comes to credit reporting.
First, if a company denies your application for credit, insurance or employment (this is knows as an “adverse action”) you are entitled to a free credit report. Be sure to ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice you’ve been denied credit. The notice will include the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company.
There are three large nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months, if you ask for it. To order, call 1-877-322-8228. You may order reports from each of the three credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can stagger your requests throughout the year.
Even if you don’t have credit problems it’s a good idea to review your credit report annually.
If you find mistakes on your credit report you can dispute them. Both the credit reporting company and the information provider (the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a credit reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take advantage of all your rights, contact both the credit reporting company and the information provider.
When you contact the credit reporting company and the credit card company, put it in writing and be very specific about what you believe is inaccurate. If you have documents that prove your case, include copies (never send the original). Send your letter by certified mail. Make sure you keep all copies of your correspondence.
When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must give you the results in writing, too, and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it’s accurate and complete.
The credit reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider. If you ask, the credit reporting company must send notices of any correction to anyone who got your report in the past six months. You also can ask that a corrected copy of your report be sent to anyone who got a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the credit reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the credit reporting company to give your statement to anyone who got a copy of your report in the recent past. You’ll probably have to pay for this service.
.What if there is negative information on your credit report that is accurate? When negative information in your report is accurate, only time can make it go away. A credit reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years.
Private companies are also available to help you get the best credit repair for a fee. They are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission under the Credit Repair Organization Act.
It’s important to monitor your credit and correct mistakes.