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Your credit report includes personal information about yourself including where you live, your bill payment history, whether you have ever filed for bankruptcy, ever been sued, or if you have ever been arrested. All of this information is sold to your creditors, employers, insurance companies and anyone else that is requesting your credit report.

It is strongly advised that you get a copy of your credit report at least once a year!
     -- The information on your credit report will affect whether or not you are approved for any type of loan or credit. It will also affect interest rates and how much money you are able to borrow.
     --  You need to make sure that all of the information on your credit report is 100% correct before you apply for any type of loan or credit, buy a house, purchase insurance or apply for a job.
-- You need to protect yourself against identity theft. This is when someone steals your personal information (i.e. social security number and/or name, etc.) to perform fraud. Specifically, opening up credit card accounts, applying for loans, etc.. Identity thieves obviously don't pay the bills associated with any of the accounts that they have opened, therefore wrecking your credit.


Do you know how to read your credit report?

** Misinformation can hurt your chances of getting any sort of credit, insurance, apartment rental or even a job that you are seeking.

How do I correct errors on my credit report?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act, otherwise known as the FCRA, states that it is the responsibility of the company/person reporting the information to fix any incorrect or outdated information on your credit report.

Removing misinformation or outdated info
In writing, tell the credit reporting company what information is wrong. List all of your supporting facts. Clearly state that you want this information removed. Send them copies of any paperwork that support your claim, i.e. paid bills, cashed checks, etc.. The originals are for you and your records. In your letter, make sure that you provide all of your personal information including your SSN, your name, your address and your date of birth. Make sure that you send your letter via certified mail with 'return receipt requested'. Keep copies of your letter. Learn more about how to properly write a dispute letter. It may be necessary for you to write a follow-up dispute letter as well.

The credit reporting company will have thirty days to launch their own investigation regarding your claim. They are also obligated to forward all of the information you provided them to the company that supplied the erroneous data. Upon receiving your dispute claim from the credit bureau, the company must do their own investigation and report their findings to the credit reporting company. If your claim is found to be valid, the information provider must alert all three of the credit reporting agencies so that your file can be updated with the correct data.

Upon completion of the analysis, the credit reporting company must provide you with a free copy of your credit report with the updated information. The free report is not the same as the free annual report you are entitled to.

You can also request that the credit reporting company sends notifications of your updated credit report to anyone that has requested your report in the last six months. Copies can be sent to anyone that requested your report within two years for reasons of employment . 

Sometimes, your dispute will not go as you plan. Resulting in the non-removal of the misinformation from your file. If this is the case, you can request a copy of your dispute letter to be included in your credit report file. You can also have your dispute letter sent to anyone that pulled your credit in the past year. This will likely cost you a fee charged by the credit bureaus.

Time is the only guarantee of the removal of bad information. Any sort of negative mark on your credit report will be listed on your file for seven years. Bankruptcies will be present for ten years.

Including missing accounts in your credit report
Sometimes, there will be accounts absent from your credit file. All major banks and financial institutions will report your information to the credit bureaus regularly. However, some creditors like smaller credit unions, retailers, and gas card companies do not provide the credit reporting agencies with your account information.

Not having all of your open accounts listed on your credit report can result in you being denied credit because of an 'insufficient credit file' or a 'no credit file'. So, to ensure that this does not happen to you, ask the credit bureaus to add the missing information to your file. Be aware that since these creditors are not even reporting your accounts to the credit reporting companies that it is unlikely that your account will be reflective of recent activity even when they are included.

The FTC also gives a detailed breakdown of how to dispute errors.

Additional articles related to credit reports:
Understanding How Your Credit Score is Calculated
Reading the Information in Your Credit Report
Improving Your Credit Rating
The Impact Of Credit Inquiries on Your Score

Credit Fact:
Have you ever received a bill that was not yours? You have rights! Creditors are required by law to validate any debt that they are tying to collect on!

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