Review Your Credit Report
Review your credit so when the time comes for an important transaction such as buying a car or just buying insurance for it. Or taking out a loan or mortgage, applying for a job, having good credit can be critical. Second only to having good credit is being able to prove it in writing. That’s done by a consumer report compiled by one of the credit reporting agencies (CRAs) that have credit information on millions of Americans.
Request a copy of your report
By law, a consumer has the right to request a copy of their report from a CRA, and that right should be exercised every year. For the reason to check on the accuracy of your report’s contents. If you detect errors in your report, the process of setting the record straight falls upon you. It involves contacting both the CRA and the provider of the information that is in dispute.
A consumer’s rights concerning errors in a consumer report are as follows:
- If disputed information cannot be verified, the CRA must delete it.
- Inaccurate information, if found, the CRA must correct it.
- Incomplete information, such as a record that shows that a consumer made late payments but does not show that the consumer is current, the CRA must complete it.
- The CRA, having changed or removed information after a reinvestigation, may not put it back in the file. That is unless the information provider verifies the information and the CRA gives advance notice to the consumer.
- The CRA must delete any account not belonging to the consumer.
- Also if requested by the consumer, the CRA must send notices of a corrected report to anyone who received it in the preceding six months. Or for two years if received for employment purposes.
Time can be your friend.
If the credit story told by a consumer report is sad but true, the best ally for a consumer who has changed his ways is the passage of time. As a general rule, accurate negative information in a report can stay there for only seven years. There are some exceptions for which the “shelf life” of negative information is extended. Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years, and there is no time limit for information on criminal convictions. Similarly, there is no time limit when applying for jobs paying more than $75,000. Nor for applications for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance.
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