Let's get started on your treasure hunt. Get a copy of your credit report and begin the review process. By law, you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the major credit reporting bureaus.
Personal Identifying Information
To get your free credit report go to www.annualcreditreport.com.
You can get all three reports at one time or your can request a copy every four months to monitor your progress.
Check the accuracy of your personal data. Your legal name and all of the many variations that you use should be listed on your report. Have unfamiliar variations removed. It could be an attempt at identity theft or nothing at all. Better to be safe than sorry. Hopefully there are no errors in your social security number, but it is possible because all the data entered on your report is entered by humans. When I applied for a mortgage with my husband for our first home, I had so many variations on my name, I was confused about my name. Consistently using the same name when applying for credit will significantly cut down on tradelines missing from your report or other persons information erroneously being included in your report.
The accounts or tradelines you have with banks, retailers, credit-card issuers, utility companies, and other lenders are included in this section. The accounts are listed by type, such as mortgage, student loan, revolving credit, or installment loan. It also includes the date you opened the account, the credit limit or loan amount, current balance, monthly payment obligation and your payment history for the past two years.
Review all aspects of this data for errors. Look for duplicate information on the same debt. Sold mortgages that appear more than once on your credit report; accounts that have been assigned to third parties and are being reported by both. Because your credit score is based on the accuracy of this information
, removing these errors can result in an increase in your credit score.
Public Record Information
In this section you will see lawsuits filed, tax liens, judgment liens, releases, prior bankruptcy filings, child support liens. Check the information for accuracy and whether it should still be included on your report. Negative information can legitimately be reported for up to seven years and in some cases up to ten years. All federal, state and local court records or filings are included in this area. Pull all of your release, waivers or dismissal orders together to provide to the credit reporting agency if the public information has been cleared.
Recent Inquiries for Credit or Employment
In this section you will see the name of any creditor or employer that has recently reviewed your credit report in response to your request for credit or as part of an employment background check. Make sure that you authorized the inquiry and keep in mind that if you already have an open account, that creditor may review your file at any time. As I review credit reports with clients, it's not uncommon for them to report unauthorized views of their credit information from creditors when the consumer had specifically asked that their credit not be pulled. The only way to know if this is happening is to review your credit report on a fairly regular basis.
Get Your Map
Take advantage of the availability of free copies of your credit report by making an annual request from Equifax, TransUnion and Experian to review the accuracy of your information. In tomorrow's post, we will talk about how to report the errors to your credit bureaus and monitor their removal.
Continue reading "Your Credit Report: The Map For Your Treasure Hunt" »