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Your Credit Report

A credit report summarizes creditors' experiences with a consumer. Information from the file can be obtained by prospective lenders or creditors to help them determine whether someone is a good credit risk. You can also obtain a copy of your file to verify that the information creditors receive about you is accurate.

If you look under "Credit Reporting Agencies" in the yellow pages there will be listings for credit bureaus in your area. You can normally call or visit these bureaus to obtain a copy, however some may require that you send a written request. You must furnish proper identification information before they can send or give the report to you. Be prepared to provide your full name including generation (III, Jr., etc.), maiden name, date of birth, social security number, current address, previous addresses for past 5 years, spouse's name, and your driver's license number.

Credit reports normally cost between $5-$15. However, if you have been turned down for credit the bureau will give you a free copy if you contact them in writing within 60 days of your denial. If you stop in, the staff can go over the report with you, but keep in mind that credit bureaus do not determine whether you will receive credit. They simply record the information your creditors submit.

Creditors can vary from credit card companies to your doctor's office to landlords. Accounts placed for collection and public records of judgments or bankruptcies also are listed on your credit report.

You have the right to enter your own personal statement. Your statement will become a permanent part of the credit record and will be included with all other information given out at the time your credit report is requested. Your statement should indicate your side of the story, or why you feel a particular entry does not fairly or accurately reflect the situation it reports.

If you have accurate negative information on your credit report, there is no way to remove it except through time. Adverse information will remain on your report for seven years from the date the creditor closed the account or placed the account with a collection agency. If you declare bankruptcy, that information will remain on your credit report for ten years.

Be wary of advertisements you see or hear from organizations claiming to be able to "fix" your credit for a fee. Remember, there is nothing they can do that you can't do for yourself at no cost other than postage. If you are considering using a credit repair service, make sure the business you choose is registered with the Department of Financial Institutions. Contact our Office for more information.

Credit Report Errors

If you find an error in your credit report, notify the credit bureau in writing that you dispute the accuracy of the entry, and why. The bureau is required to investigate the disputed entry. If an error is discovered it must be corrected or, if the entry cannot be verified as belonging to you, it must be removed completely. At your request the credit bureau will inform lenders who have requested your credit report within the past six months, or businesses that requested your report for employment reasons within the past two years, of any corrections or deletions made to your file.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding credit reports

Does the credit bureau rate my accounts?
No. Credit bureaus only keep records on information reported to them or obtained from public records. The creditor actually rates your account.

Who has access to my credit report?
Credit grantors and merchants buy membership to the credit bureaus to obtain easy access to borrower credit histories. Members sign a contract promising that they will only access credit files when considering persons for extensions of credit, employment or other legitimate business purposes.

Do businesses need my permission to review my credit report?
No. Legally, your credit report does not belong to you; it belongs to the credit bureau and its members.