Maintaining Complete and Accurate Credit Records
Mistakes on your credit record can cloud your credit future. Your credit rating is important, so be sure that credit-bureau records are complete and accurate.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act says that you must be told what's in your credit file and have any errors corrected.
If a lender refuses you credit because of unfavorable information in your credit report, you have a right to get the name and address of the agency that keeps your report. Then, you may either request information from the credit bureau by mail or in person. You may not get an exact copy of the file, but you will learn what's in the report. The law also says that the credit bureau must help you interpret the data in the report because the raw data may take experience to analyze. If you're questioning a credit refusal made within the past 60 days, the bureau cannot charge a fee for giving you information.
If you disagree with the findings, you can file a short statement (100 words) in your record, giving your side of the story.
If you notify the bureau about an error, generally the bureau must investigate and resolve the dispute within 30 days after receiving your notice. The bureau will contact the creditor who supplied the data and remove any information that is incomplete or inaccurate from your credit file. If you disagree with the findings, you can file a short statement (100 words) in your record, giving your side of the story. Future reports to creditors must include this statement or a summary of it.
Don't assume that minor credit problems or difficulties stemming from unique circumstances, such as illness or temporary loss of income, will limit your loan choices to only high-cost lenders. If your credit report contains negative information that is accurate, but there are good reasons for trusting you to repay a loan, be sure to explain your situation to the lender or broker. If your credit problems cannot be explained, you will probably have to pay more than borrowers who have good credit histories. But don't assume that the only way to get credit is to pay a high price. Ask how your past credit history affects the price of your loan and what you would need to do to get a better price. Take the time to shop around and negotiate the best deal that you can.
Whether you have credit problems or not, it's a good idea to review your credit report for accuracy and completeness before you apply for a loan. To order a copy of your credit report, contact:
Major Credit Bureaus
Sometimes credit information is too old to give a good picture of your financial reputation. There is a limit on how long certain information may be kept in your file:
Bankruptcies must not be reported after 10 years. However, information about any bankruptcies at any time may be reported if you apply for life insurance with a face value over $150,000, for a job paying $75,000 or more, or for credit with a principal amount of $150,000 or more.
Suits and judgments paid, tax liens, and most other kinds of unfavorable information must not be reported after 7 years.
Your credit record may not be given to anyone who does not have a legitimate business need for it. Stores to which you are applying for credit may examine your record; curious neighbors may not. Prospective employers may examine your record with your permission.