Analyzing your Credit Report
When analyzing your credit report, It's important to know what to look for. Carefully examine your credit report because Credit Bureau generate your report based on information they receive from creditors. They DO NOT Verify the information. That is the reason a great percentage of reports has an error on it.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act sets certain guidelines which Credit Bureau and your creditors must follow when reporting your credit file, as well as giving the consumer certain rights.
However, the job of keeping your credit report error free is your responsibility. Remember that these credit reporting bureaus are just private companies selling information about you.
How to read your credit report
On your credit reports, there will be an information page telling you how to read your report. Your credit report will likely be divided into four main sections. Note: All three agencies use different formats.
Your Credit History
Your credit history section is a record of how you have paid your bills and handled your financial obligations. The information in this section is reported to the Credit Bureau by your creditors. Data from collection and public records may also appear on your credit report. For example a Tax Lien or a judgment is a public record and will most likely show up on your credit report.
Your Payment History
Your account will show your payment history for up to 84 months (7 years) preceding the balance date, which is the date the bureau received the most recently updated information about your account. On some credit reports, this history appears in the account description. Read from Left to Right, the codes below, reflect the status of the account for that month.
|1 = 30 days past due||C = Current|
|2 = 60 days past due||0 = Current /Zero balance|
|3 = 90 days past due||N = Zero balance (not reported that month)|
|4 = 120 days past due||B = Account Change (i.e., open to paid)|
|5 = 150 days past due||7, 8 or 9 = Derogatory|
|6 = 180 days past due||- (dash) = No history report for the month|
Note that the number of months reviewed is based on the date the account was opened or the date it was first reported to that credit bureau.
Your Credit History was Reviewed By
This section is called "inquires" and shows you who has looked at the information on your credit report during the past 2 years.
This section contains additional information reported to the credit bureau by organizations that have done business with you.
1. Social Security Number(s)
If variations of your SSN where reported, they will appear here.
Your present and previous addresses will be printed here along with the number of times they were reported to the credit bureau.
4. Verifying Information
Information used to verify the information you provided to a credit grantor also may appear in this area.
If variations of your name, date of birth or your spouse's name were reported to the credit bureau, they will appear here.
Your next step after reading your credit report
Begin by getting defensive about your credit report. After reviewing your credit report, print out your report then carefully look for and highlight everything from typing errors, outdated and incomplete information to everything you see as a negative listing. Then on a separate sheet of paper, make a thorough list of items you want to dispute and why you are disputing those items.
The first step is to find all the derogatory items, since these errors could impact your credit.
Look for collection accounts that don't belong to you. Equifax lists them at the end of the report, Trans Union mixes them throughout the report. Experian gives a brief paragraph explanation of all accounts. The collections may have a collector's name or account number you do not recognize. If you don't recognize the account as being one of yours, please don't assume that it is.
Next Look for:
- Incorrect personal information (misspellings in your name, wrong addresses etc.)
- Missing accounts that should be listed on your credit report
- Incorrect public records (foreclosures and bankruptcies that you didn't file)
- Accounts that should be open that are actually closed, including accounts listed as "closed by grantor"
- Duplicate accounts
- Delinquencies or derogatory marks
- Fraudulent activity
- Incorrect inquiries
- Other errors you can find
Your Six Basic Rights under The Fair Credit Reporting Act
You, the consumer, have the right to challenge the accuracy of your credit report any time.
The Credit Bureau must reinvestigate anything you challenge without a charge.
The Credit Bureau must reinvestigate within a reasonable amount of time. 30 days constitutes a "reasonable amount of time" unless the bureau notifies you otherwise (so keep accurate records).
If the credit bureau finds an error in the challenged item, they must delete or correct that information in your files immediately.
If the Credit Bureau cannot or do not confirm the challenged item within 30 days, they must delete that information from your files immediately.
You have the right to submit a Consumer Statement of your view of the problem. If you, as a credit consumer, dispute the accuracy of certain information in your credit report and it is verified by the creditor as correct, then the credit bureau is required to include your explanation of your dispute, if you request, in your credit report. Limit your explanation to no more than 100 words.
The law defines a billing error as any charge:
For something you didn't buy or for a purchase made by someone not authorized to use your account.
For something that is not properly identified on your bill or is for an amount different from the actual purchase price or was entered on a date different from the purchase date.
For something that you did not accept on delivery or that was not delivered according to agreement.
Errors in arithmetic.
Failure to show a payment or other credit to your account.
Failure to mail the bill to your current address, if you told the creditor about an address change at least 20 days before the end of the billing period.
Questionable items, or any item for which you need more information.
|How to order a free credit report||Dealing with Credit Bureaus|
|How to repair bad credit yourself||Profile of a Perfect Credit|
|How to Improve your credit score||Credit & Marriage|
|How to dispute negative credit||Know your legal rights|