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Category Archives: Reading Your Report

How to identify inaccuracies on your credit report – Who do I write to?

Your credit has 6 sections:

  • Personal Information: your full name, your social security number, your birth date, your current and previous addresses, your employment history, and your driver’s license information.
  • Account Information: opening and closing dates on accounts, student loans, lines-of-credit, mortgages, balances and credit limits, history of payments, child support, over-the-limit checking accounts.
  • Inquiries: a hard pull of your credit report from a creditor when you apply for credit.
  • Public Records and Collection Accounts: including information that has been collected from debt collection agencies and court systems.  Also includes reports on liens or judgments, foreclosures, bankruptcies, wage attachments, and accounts in collection.  Court records included in this section can include divorce, which is usually considered a negative by lending institutions.
  • Consumer Statements: you may add a statement to your credit report explaining certain adverse situations appearing on their credit report including ID Theft. These statements are seldom considered in financial transactions and have no effect on an individual’s credit score.
  • Credit score: which rates your overall risk.  This number ranges from 340 to 850, with higher numbers the less risky you appear to a lender.

If anything in your report is incorrect, inaccurate, appearing to show as ‘late’ or ‘missed payment’, be sure to address that immediately. Also if you see that an inquiry is posted on your report that you did not initiate contact the creditor requesting proof of your signature. It’s always a good idea as well to submit a consumer statement. Especially if you are asking for forgiveness from other lenders after a judgement, bk, repossession, etc.

Below are the addresses for the bureaus, be sure you include all of the required documents in order to speed up the investigation process.

Experian
P.O. Box 9556
Allen, TX 75013

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

TransUnion
Trans Union Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000

GC

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Federal Trade Commission – Your rights as a consumer

The Federal Trade Commission requires that all businesses place this at the top of their site:

“You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or 877-322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under federal law.” – therefore you can use this site to pull all three reports absolutely free! You have the right as a consumer to access your credit reports. You may also send snail mail to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348 if you would prefer.

Credit monitoring services are usually the best route to retrieving your credit reports and scores. Typically you will have to purchase your scores separately if you utilize AnnualCreditReport.com. Some sites will claim that they are free, but usually require you enroll in some product or service. I recommend using a monitoring service because you can see updates monthly or quarterly. Also you receive alerts when your credit updates which is very important when repairing your credit.

Also here is the Fair Credit Reporting Act link from the Federal Trade Commission website: http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/031224fcra.pdf it has depth to it.

CG

 

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Comparing services – What features appeal to you?

Most monitoring services give you access to a variety of different tools and services. When utilizing a monitoring service not only are you receiving your credit reports and scores, but you are almost always going to have ID theft protection included. Which is important too!

Features that I like to see in a monitoring service:

  1. ID Theft Protection
  2. 3-in-1 Credit Reports
  3. 3-in-1 Credit Scores
  4. Credit Stimulator
  5. Education Center
  6. Credit Alert Updates
  7. Safety Seal
  8. Access to good customer service
  9. Excellent Reputation
  10. Good Reviews

It’s always good to ask around as well. You friends or neighbors may know of other additional tools that could be useful in your credit repairing process. I know that Wells Fargo offers a credit monitoring service when you do your banking with them. I’ve looked around other places for this same feature, but unfortunately WF seems to have the ‘one up’.

CG

 

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Comparing services – Monitoring services I’ve used

As I stated earlier I was going to dedicate a post specifically to credit monitoring services. First I am going to touch bases on the services I’ve used and my experiences with them.

  1. Free Score
  2. Score Sense
  3. Identity Guard

Free Score – I utilized Free Score for probably about 6 months. It was my very first monitoring service that appealed to me. Unfortunately after that extended period of time I started to feel a bit ‘taken advantage of’. I say this because I was not receiving notifications/alerts that my credit was being updated.

I know too that my credit indeed was updating. I became a bit frustrated after I applied for a new line-of-credit to establish my credit further and I did not receive a notification that I had a ‘new installment loan’. I decided to part with Free Score after I realized their information was not posting as immediate as I would prefer.

Score Sense – I found Score Sense which I felt was just up my alley like Free Score. I started to fool around with their site and realized that once again, I needed to get up to speed with my alerts. I began to notice that I wasn’t getting my monies worth. The education center on the site wasn’t as detailed as Free Score either.

Identity Guard – Identity Guard is a little higher in price, but you get what you pay for! I have been with Identity Guard now for about a month. I am very satisfied with the results. I know that with this service I actually feel safe. I feel like my information is secure, I know I’m protected in all verticals. I am alerted almost instantly by email when there’s an update to my report or score! Which isn’t that the purpose of having a monitoring service? To make you feel safe, secure, protected?

Overall all three of these were ideal for the time being. It really comes down to what is the best for you and your situation? What features would you like to see in a monitoring service? Those things matter!

My suggestions to you would be to do your research. It’s good to use a free trial first, therefore you can fool around and get comfortable before you lock yourself in!

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Soft inquiries – When was the last time you saw your credit report?

It’s very important to start a monitoring your credit once you’ve receive your reports. Credit monitoring services also protect you from ID theft and allow you to stimulate your credit score by entering specific information pertaining to: additional inquires, paying down your debt, missing a payments, etc.

When was the last time you saw your credit report? How long did it take you to feel comfortable or confident enough to really make the educated decision to pull it?

When you do secure a credit monitoring service and your credit is pulled; the inquiry will be a soft pull. A soft pull does not harm your credit score. It is done occasionally by insurance companies or rental agencies, and it is only visible to you. Do not be afraid to utilize a monitoring service because it will ‘hurt your score’ – that is a myth.

I know for me once I saw the damage on my report I knew I had to start the disputing process. My very next step was to secure a legitimate service to help me. I could then begin to track my progress when I was disputing the inaccuracies I found.

There are a few great monitoring services out there that you can choose from. I will dedicate a post specifically to credit monitoring services I have used in the past soon! Then you can make the executive decision on which one is best for you based upon my past experiences with their sites.

CG

 

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Step One – Crawl before you walk!

The first step in starting to repair your credit is to begin collecting the copies of credit reports from the various bureaus otherwise known as a CRA’s. After obtaining the three credit reports from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion start making evaluation of your financial position. You can dispute anything and everything that is negative but start with your personal information.

You will need to thoroughly review your reports. Each CRA (credit reporting agency) is it’s own entity and they do not do business together. Often times you will have variations of the same item on each report. Any item that is potentially negative should be disputed and the CRA. From here the bureau(s) check with the creditor to begin the investigation process.

It’s very imperative that you know what your report actually reflects. Next step is ‘Understanding how to read your report’.

GC

 

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