Free Annual Credit Report
Would FREE copies your credit report be of interest? If you are committed to repairing your credit or simply want to know what is on your credit report, I have good news for you. A free copy of your credit report is available to every consumer annually. This article discusses the free report as well as repairing your credit report once you have your credit file on hand.
Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and Vermont always had a right to one free report per bureau each year. But now this same benefit is available in every state – one FREE credit report from each of the three major national credit bureaus every 12 months.
Additionally, consumers may be entitled to a free report under certain other conditions, such as having been denied credit, insurance or a job within the past 60 days. You’re also entitled to a free report if you think your report is inaccurate due to fraud.
But under the new law, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion have an online site where you can get a free report at Annual Credit Report. There is also a toll-free phone number: 877-322-8228. Finally you can write to P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Yahoo News suggests: “If you do use the postal address, it’s best to print and mail in a completed online request form. You can’t get your report unless you answer questions on the form.” There is also information available through Federal Trade Commission.
You can purchase additional reports and/or a credit score by contacting one of the consumer credit reporting companies.
You can also purchase a credit score when you request your free annual credit report through Annual Credit Report (referenced above.)
You might want to note that each bureau offers credit ID fraud called safeguard services, but for fees. For example TransUnion offers “ID Fraud Watch”. For $10.95 each quarter, you get a credit report every three months and $25,000 of identity theft insurance.
Once you have your report, what do you look for?
Here are some basic things you should check on your report. Go through your entire report entry by entry. Have the credit agency legend by your side in order to verify coding compliance. Have also a paper and pencil to annotate any item you find in error. Go slowly.
Don’t assume your personal information is correct. You could be viewing information from someone else’s report with just a simple error such as: first name misspelled, missing Jr./Sr., erroneous address, bad zip code, wrong employer, or any other incorrect personal data.
Insure marital information is correct. Are accounts listed as “joint” really joint?
Is the report in compliance with court settlements? Outdated information is normally considered to be any item older than 7 years except for bankruptcy, which is usually 10 years.
Closed accounts should not be listed as open. Accounts you closed should reflect, “Closed by consumer”. Otherwise it can be assumed that it was closed by the creditor– not good.
Accounts should not appear twice even in different sections.
Incorrect histories such as late payments, a credit entry you do not recognize, a pre-marital debt of your current spouse, or other such items need your attention.
Are there missing reports that would be beneficial to show a good history, and are profiles, credit limits, and balances correct?
A former correction to your credit file that has since disappeared should be brought to the agency’s attention.
Final Comments: I am often asked if a collection company sells your account to another collection agency, can you get the first one deleted from your report or will it just show as a zero balance
Reporting depends on who owns the account there are several directions this can take:
If the original creditor still owns the account but assigns the debt to a collection company then both get to report on that account listing.
If the original creditor retracts the collection and re-assigns it to a new collection agency then both original creditor and the 2nd collection agency can report but the first one must remove their listing off of the credit report.
If the original creditor sells the debt to a collection agency then the creditor will report zero balance / sold to another lender, and the collection agency will report.
If that collection agency assigns a debt to another collection agency then it is allowable for both to report the account listing, but if they take back that account then that assigned collection agency must remove their reporting.
Now if that collection agency sells the debt to another collection agency they get to keep their reporting on the report since they owned the account at one time, and the new collection agency picks up on the reporting.
Therefore, the difference is if your account is “assigned” or “sold”.