Credit

Nobody is perfect. Everybody has made mistakes in their lives, and hopefully they’ve learned valuable lessons from those mistakes. When it comes to financial mistakes, it is essential that you learn from your errors in order to avoid repeating them in the future. If you’ve made financial mistakes along the way, your credit report will reflect these and make it more difficult for you to secure financing for your next car purchase or to finance the purchase of a new home. Every time that you are 30 days late or more in making a payment, it appears on your credit report and brings your credit score down. That will stay on your credit report for seven years, according to myFico. If you’ve made all of your payments on time and you’ve paid down most of your loans, then you should have a fairly high credit score.

To make sure that your credit report contains the correct information about your credit history, it is important to check your reports on a consistent basis. By checking your report at least once a year, you can make sure that the information that is contained in your reports is accurate. But what if you find information on your reports that is inaccurate? Is there something that you can do to make a correction?

Dealing with Credit Report Errors

If you find that you have errors on your credit report that are causing your to have a low credit score, there are a few things that you can do to resolve the situation. Vendors, lenders and creditors all report information about how you pay your bills to the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Your credit report also contains information on where you live and work, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested or filed for bankruptcy. While having misinformation on your credit reports can be damaging to your credit score, it is something that can be taken care of with a little hard work and some time.

If you find that your report contains inaccurate information, you need to contact both the credit reporting agency (Equifax, Experian or Transunion) as well as the company that supplied them with the information, according to the U.S. government’s official web portal. When you contact the credit reporting agency, it must be in writing, and it is important that you keep a copy of all of the documentation. Once you have contacted the credit reporting agency, it is important to continue to check your credit report on a monthly basis until the inaccurate information is removed from your report.

How Free Credit Scores Can Benefit You

In order to get a copy of your credit score, you would have to pay each credit reporting agency $30 or more. When you have to monitor your report from each agency to ensure that inaccurate information is removed, this can really start to add up. Luckily there are other options out there. There are ways that you can get free credit scores and credit reports, but it will take a little online nimbleness and ingenuity. Here is what you can do:

  • Sign up for a free trial with FICO – This is probably one of the simplest and cheapest options available online. FICO offers a free 10-day trial period in which you get an instant free Equifax credit report and credit FICO score. However, once you’ve got the score, you have to go back and call to cancel your trial membership. It would be a good idea to do this as soon as you get a printed or virtual copy of your credit report and credit score.
  • Try your credit card company – Major credit card companies are trying to lure in customers for their credit cards by offering free FICO scores from one agency. However, Yahoo explains that each of the three different credit bureaus will have different scores, and you have to find out which score you will get for free. Companies like Barclays, Discover and First Bank National are already working with the FICO Open Access Program to provide free FICO scores to their credit card customers. If you have a credit card from one of these companies, you can try to get your score from them.
  • Free credit scores – There are websites online like CreditSesame.com that provide free credit scores to customers. All you have to do is open an account, provide your personal information and your Social Security number for the website to generate your report and your credit score.

Suze Orman explains that these processes will get you a free credit score almost instantly, but it’s a good idea to use them in rotation. Personally checking your credit score repeatedly will not affect your score, but it does cause the credit bureau to sit up and pay attention. Take the time to check the information on the reports thoroughly and get in touch with the bureaus to make changes if they are required.

Originally posted by Dane Carlson on April 20, 2014 in You Don't Say.

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