What Is A Credit Report?
A credit report is simply a record of your borrowing and paying back habit held by consumer reporting companies.
The report contains a multi-year history of your credit cards, home loans, consumer credits and other debt including cell or mobile phone payments etc. The report will list any current and old address, and often your phone number and social security number.
It generally includes your personal details, address, and if you have moved address in the last two years, your current account details, how quickly you pay your bills, or if there are late payments on credit cards, loans or store cards and how late they were, 30-day past due, 60-day past due, and any other bad debt on your part.
If you have ever been sued or even arrested for financial reasons, if you have filed for bankruptcy in the past, and the overall amount of debt you currently owe will all show up on your credit report.
All these information in the report are crystallized into creating a number called the credit score.
Banks, insurance companies, credit card issuers, and employers seek these information to decide on whether to grant you credit or take you onto their employment.
In order to promote financial health, and resolve any debt problems you may have, it's essential that you have the latest information held on you on your credit file.
In the US, credit scores range from 300 to 850. The average credit score in the US is 700, and you need a credit score of about 660 to start being considered as credit worthy; though some organizations may go a little lower or request higher levels. There are many statistical formula used to derive credit scores, and the most popular in the US is the FICO score.
When To Ask For Your Free Credit Report
Ideally, everyone of us should request for our credit report at the beginning or end of every financial year or tax period.
This would help us reconcile our annual financial situation with what the credit agencies or companies have on us.
Having your credit report every single year also helps us to protect ourselves against identity theft. In some communities, thieves can impersonate you and take bank loans or credit cards in your name or against your address without your knowing. Many many unsuspecting hardworking men and women have found out that they are the victim of identity fraud only after finding a strange name or financial association on their credit report!
You can get free credit report even more frequently under the following circumstances:
- If you are unemployed and looking for job
- If you are denied a loan or any other credit facility or unable to open a bank account because of your credit score
- If you are turned down for insurance
- If you will not be employed because of a perceived poor credit score.
You can ask for to get free credit report on you within 60 days from when you are notified of any of the above, to ensure the information held about you is right.
The Major Credit Referencing Agencies
In the United Kingdom and North America, there are a number of credit referencing companies that collate and store credit scores.
You can get free credit report held on you by any of the credit agencies. There are three credit referencing companies in the United Kingdom and North America from whom you can request your credit report.
- Experian and
- Trans Union in the USA. Trans Union is not available to residents of New York.
And in the UK, they are:
In the USA, to get free credit report from any or all of the above bodies, you can apply through the government sanctioned credit agency, AnnualCreditReport.com, which is only available to ISPs in the United States. You can call them on 1-877-322-8228.
If you are looking to get your reports from all three credit agencies, you can apply for what is called a 3 in 1 credit report. You would be charged by some credit companies anything between $50 to $250 to get that.
Remember that by applying to get free credit report, you will be approached by credit card companies for new card sign ups!
How To Get Your Credit Report Corrected
Though Credit companies will genuinely try to maintain accurate records, your credit report and thus credit score may may contain errors.
They may list loans as active that have been paid off. They may list current credit cards you canceled long ago.
And, they may fail to list payments made to make up overdue amounts. You may even find out that there are unknown debts listed against your name. This may be what is hurting your credit and making it impossible for you to get loans or even jobs.
this isn't sloppiness on the part of the credit bureaus but simply a
reflection of timing and other common human errors in keeping records.
The world may be computerized, but those databases still don't always
communicate effectively between companies using different systems.
only thing an individual can do about this - out of self-protection, if
nothing else - is to get copies from all three agencies and review them
Make a note of any errors; establish proof of
the error, then send a registered letter with the proof to the agency
asking them to correct the data.
In most cases, any such error would be corrected and you could see your credit rating soar overnight. Here is a true life story of people who have been able to get their credit score back to excellent within days or weeks by not only leaning "how to get your credit report for free" but also taking steps to correct it where there are errors.