When analyzing your credit report, It's important to know what to look for. Carefully examine your credit report because Credit Bureau generate your report based on information they receive from creditors. They DO NOT Verify the information. That is the reason a great percentage of reports has an error on it.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act sets certain guidelines which Credit Bureau and your creditors must follow when reporting your credit file, as well as giving the consumer certain rights.
However, the job of keeping your credit report error free is your responsibility. Remember that these credit reporting bureaus are just private companies selling information about you.
On your credit reports, there will be an information page telling you how to read your report. Your credit report will likely be divided into the following 5 main sections.
Begin by getting defensive about your credit report. Print out your report then carefully look for and highlight everything from typing errors, outdated and incomplete information to everything you see as a negative listing. Then make a list. On that list, you will write down items you want to dispute and why you are disputing those items.
1. The first step is to make sure you recognize all of the accounts on your credit report? Write down any account that you do not think is yours.
2. Next find all the derogatory items, since these errors could impact your credit.
3. Do you recognize all of the inquiries made on your credit report? An inquiry is a record of any new credit that you apply for. Make sure you recognize all the inquiries made because if someone steals your identity and tries to apply for new credit in your name, an unrecognizable credit inquiry is usually the first sign of a fraudulent activity.)
4. In reviewing each account, make sure the account balance and payment history looks right. In the payment history section, you should be able to see 7 years of history. If you see missed payments that shouldn’t have been there, write it down. Your credit score is negatively impacted when you are 30 days or more past due.
4. Are there any "Negative Information," on your credit report. This will include negative accounts, collections or public records. Negative information has a big impact on your credit score, so you want to make sure you recognize all of it.
This section contains all the information that uniquely identifies you from another person who may have the same name.
What to check: Is your name correct?
1. Social Security Number(s)
If variations of your SSN where reported, they will appear here.
What to check: Is your social security number correct?
Your present and previous addresses will be printed here along with the number of times they were reported to the credit bureau.
What to check: Is your current address correct?
What to check: Are your previous addresses listed here correct?
4. Verifying Information
Information used to verify the information you provided to a credit grantor also may appear in this area.
If variations of your name, date of birth or your spouse's name were reported to the credit bureau, they will appear here.
These listings show any legal information that may affect your credit score.
What to check: Is there anything listed in the public record information? Is it correct? Highlight the information that you think may not be correct.
Any collection agencies assigned to recover outstanding debts will be listed here.
What to check: Is there anything listed under the collection agency account information? Is it correct? Highlight the information you think may not be correct.
Look for collection accounts that don't belong to you. Equifax lists them at the end of the report, Trans Union mixes them throughout the report. Experian gives a brief paragraph explanation of all accounts. The collections may have a collector's name or account number you do not recognize. If you don't recognize the account as being one of yours, please don't assume that it is.
This section will contain information reported to the credit bureau by organizations that have done business with you. Installment loan accounts will be listed here, such as auto loans, students loan and mortgages. Revolving credit amounts will also be listed. These may include credit cards, store cards and gas cards. Information on your payment history can be found here.
What to check: Review each item under the credit account information. Do you have these accounts reported open? Did you once have the accounts reported closed?
What to check: Are all of the balances correct? Are the account numbers correct? Is the reported payment pattern correct?
What to check: Is the negative information reported on each credit account where applicable correct? Look for late payments and missed payments highlight those items you think are incorrect.
This section is called "inquires" and shows you who has looked at the information on your credit report during the past 2 years.
Your Credit History
Your credit history section is a record of how you have paid your bills and handled your financial obligations. The information in this section is reported to the Credit Bureau by your creditors. Data from collection and public records may also appear on your credit report. For example a Tax Lien or a judgment is a public record and will most likely show up on your credit report.
Your Payment History
Your account will show your payment history for up to 84 months (7 years) preceding the balance date, which is the date the bureau received the most recently updated information about your account. On some credit reports, this history appears in the account description. Read from Left to Right, the codes below, reflect the status of the account for that month.
|1 = 30 days past due
|C = Current
|2 = 60 days past due
|0 = Current /Zero balance
|3 = 90 days past due
|N = Zero balance (not reported that month)
|4 = 120 days past due
|B = Account Change (i.e., open to paid)
|5 = 150 days past due
|7, 8 or 9 = Derogatory
|6 = 180 days past due
|- (dash) = No history report for the month
Note that the number of months reviewed is based on the date the account was opened or the date it was first reported to that credit bureau.
You, the consumer, have the right to challenge the accuracy of your credit report any time.
The Credit Bureau must reinvestigate anything you challenge without a charge.
The Credit Bureau must reinvestigate within a reasonable amount of time. 30 days constitutes a "reasonable amount of time" unless the bureau notifies you otherwise (so keep accurate records).
If the credit bureau finds an error in the challenged item, they must delete or correct that information in your files immediately.
If the Credit Bureau cannot or do not confirm the challenged item within 30 days, they must delete that information from your files immediately.
You have the right to submit a Consumer Statement of your view of the problem. If you, as a credit consumer, dispute the accuracy of certain information in your credit report and it is verified by the creditor or lender as correct, then the credit bureau is required to include your explanation of your dispute, if you request, in your credit report. Limit your explanation to no more than 100 words.
For something you didn't buy or for a purchase made by someone not authorized to use your account.
For something that is not properly identified on your bill or is for an amount different from the actual purchase price or was entered on a date different from the purchase date.
For something that you did not accept on delivery or that was not delivered according to agreement.
Errors in arithmetic.
Failure to show a payment or other credit to your account.
Failure to mail the bill to your current address, if you told the creditor about an address change at least 20 days before the end of the billing period.
Questionable items, or any item for which you need more information.