"What kind of information is on my credit report -and how can I see it?" is a common question among people who have had trouble securing credit or loans. Basically, your personal credit report is an electronic record of all of your credit activity including recent requests for credit that you have applied for and the payment activity on any open or closed credit or loans you may have. This history is vitally important because lenders use your credit report to determine if they are willing to extend loans or credit to you.
The Credit Reporting Agency (CRA) must tell you everything in your report, including medical information, and in most cases, the sources of the information. The CRA also must give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year - two years for employment related requests.
There’s no charge if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment, and you request your report within 60 days of receiving the notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the CRA.
In addition, you’re entitled to one free
report a year. Please check www.annualcreditreport.com
web site (centralized service created by the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion)
Otherwise, a CRA may charge you up to $9.00 for a copy of your report.
Even if you have not been denied credit, you may want to find out what information is in your credit report. Some financial advisors suggest that you review your credit report periodically for inaccuracies or omissions. This could be especially important if you’re considering a major purchase, such as buying a home or a car. Checking in advance on the accuracy of the information in your credit report could speed the credit-granting process.
Your credit file may include facts about your identity, occupation, employer, income, and dependents. It may also list your spouse’s name and employer. Each time you apply for credit, a copy of your application goes into your file—so be sure to give the correct information. Misleading information can adversely affect the creditor’s opinion of your trustworthiness.
You probably won’t find:
investigative gossip from your employers or neighbors;
information on “bounced” checks; or
information on home mortgages.
Checking Your Credit History
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives you the right to review your credit history. It serves to protect consumers against inaccurate and obsolete information. Considering the huge volume of information flowing into credit bureau files, mistakes may be made, especially if you have a common name.
Some financial advisors recommend checking your file each year to be sure the records are accurate. Others say to check occasionally. What is important is that you know how to check your credit records if a problem arises and you’re turned down for a loan, employment, or life insurance because of information in your file.
If you are refused credit, employment, or life insurance on the basis of your credit bureau file, insist on reviewing your credit history. You may review this information at no charge if you request it within 30 days of the credit refusal.
By law, the credit bureau must disclose:
the “nature and substance” of all information in your file;
names of creditors who received reports on you in the last six months;
names of potential employers who have received reports on you in the last two years; and
all sources of information in your file.
The bureau must correct your file if you prove any of the information to be inaccurate or unfavorable. It must also send notices of the corrections to
(1) creditors who have received your credit report in the last six months and
(2) potential employers who received reports on you in the last two years.
By federal law, information in your credit file can be reported for seven years; if the information concerns personal bankruptcy, it can be reported for ten years.
After the information has been in your file for a seven- or ten-year period, it cannot be disclosed by a credit-reporting agency unless you apply for credit or life insurance with a face value of $50,000 or more, or are newly employed at a salary of $20,000 or more.