You Know What is in it?
Your credit report will be
thoroughly reviewed during any thorough background investigation.
This can be an opportunity to shine or it could mean the end of your
candidacy. The time to take measures to improve your credit
report is now, before you're knee deep in a background
In a study by the
Public Interest Research Group it was reported that over 70% of credit
reports contain errors.
Since it takes time to have anything
changed on a credit report, the time to take action is now.
What is in Your Credit Report
The first step to improving your credit
is to identify what exactly your credit report contains.
Now, there is not just one
all-encompassing, super credit report. In fact, there are three
main credit reporting bureaus.
(formerly TRW Credit Bureau)
Each of these companies compile and
organize information pertaining to individual credit. Lenders and
creditors also provide them with information on the activities of
debtors. The information is then summarized in your credit
Each of the three offer a different
credit report based on the information they independently receive, so
it's important to have an idea of what all three credit reporting
bureaus are saying. If you don't want to get all three, at least
Besides the actual data, you are given
a credit score based on a culmination of all your credit activities.
Generally, the credit bureaus use a scale for credit scores which runs
from 330 to 830.
There are Errors in My Credit Report
Okay, this is good. It is good
that you learned this now and not when in front of an interview panel
for a job.
In your credit report are the names and
(most of the time) the telephone numbers of the entities reporting
both good and bad credit activities. Often, a telephone call and
maybe sending documentation to support you position will solve the
In instances where this does not remedy
credit report errors, you have recourse.
Below is an excerpt from the US Federal
Trade Commission which addresses errors on a credit report:
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,
both the credit reporting agency and the organization that provided
the information to the credit reporting agency, such as a bank or
credit card company, have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate
or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights
under the law, contact both the credit reporting agency and the
First, tell the credit reporting
agency in writing what information you believe is inaccurate.
Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your
position. In addition to providing your complete name and address,
your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you
dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the
information, and request deletion or correction. You may want to
enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled.
Your letter may look something like the sample below. Send your
letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can
document what the credit reporting agency received. Keep copies of
your dispute letter and enclosures.
Credit reporting agencies must
reinvestigate the items in question--usually within 30 days--unless
they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all
relevant data you provide about the dispute to the information
provider. After the information provider receives notice of a
dispute from the credit reporting agency, it must investigate,
review all relevant information provided by the credit reporting
agency, and report the results to the credit reporting agency. If
the information provider finds the disputed information to be
inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide credit reporting agencies
so they can correct this information in your file. l Disputed
information that cannot be verified must be deleted from your file.
If your report contains erroneous
information, the credit reporting agency must correct it.
If an item is incomplete, the
credit reporting agency must complete it. For example, if your
file showed that you were late making payments, but failed to show
that you were no longer delinquent, the credit reporting agency
must show that you're current.
If your file shows an account that
belongs only to another person, the credit reporting agency must
When the reinvestigation is complete,
the credit reporting agency must give you the written results and a
free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an
item is changed or removed, the credit reporting agency cannot put
the disputed information back in your file unless the information
provider verifies its accuracy and completeness, and the credit
reporting agency gives you a written notice that includes the name,
address, and phone number of the provider.
Also, if you request, the credit
reporting agency must send notices of corrections to anyone who
received your report in the past six months. Job applicants can have
a corrected copy of their report sent to anyone who received a copy
during the past two years for employment purposes. If a
reinvestigation does not resolve your dispute, ask the credit
reporting agency to include your statement of the dispute in your
file and in future reports.
Second, in addition to writing to the
credit reporting agency, tell the creditor or other information
provider in writing that you dispute an item. Again, include copies
(NOT originals) of documents that support your position. Many
providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider then
reports the item to any credit reporting agency, it must include a
notice of your dispute. In addition, if you are correct-that is, if
the disputed information is not accurate-the information provider
may not use it again. Accurate Negative Information When negative
information in your report is accurate, only the passage of time can
assure its removal. Accurate negative information can generally stay
on your report for 7 years. There are certain exceptions:
Information about criminal
convictions may be reported without any time limitation.
Bankruptcy information may be
reported for 10 years.
Credit information reported in
response to an application for a job with a salary of more than
$75,000 has no time limit.
Credit information reported
because of an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit
or life insurance has no time limit.
Information about a lawsuit or an
unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until
the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. Criminal
convictions can be reported without any time limit.
So you see, even the Government takes
Confirm that Credit Report Errors Were
Do not take anyone's word for it.
Obtain a recent copy of your credit report to make sure that errors
How can I Obtain a Free Credit Report
Each of the top three credit bureaus
mentioned above - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - is required to
provide you with a free credit report, at your request,
once every 12 months. From them you may obtain an online credit report
or a credit report via regular mail.