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Holmes, Tamara E. “Credit Score Statistics.” Nasdaq. N.p., 23 Jan. 2015. Web. <http://www.nasdaq.com/article/credit-score-statistics-cm435901>.


Credit Reflections: Credit Report

Your credit report is a tool. You can use it well, poorly, or not at all. So, let’s use it well! Print out your credit report and let’s look at it together.

Credit reports will generally contain the same categories of information. It may be arranged differently depending on which report you look at. For example, the “Personal Information” section in a credit report from TransUnion may appear at the beginning. The “Personal Information” section in a credit report from Equifax may appear at the end of a report.

In this “Credit Reflections” exercise, we’ll use a TransUnion credit report as an example.

No matter which bureau you received your report from, let’s review it together now.

1. Locate the Personal Information section on your credit report.

Read the information in this section and ask yourself, is it accurate? You probably will be able to tell right away.

  • Confirm that your name is correct.
  • Confirm that your address is correct.
  • Review your “Employment Data Reported” information. You will likely see some of your employers but not all. Not every employer reports your employment to the credit bureaus. You can always contact the credit bureau to update this information or correct any mistakes.
  • Note your “Report Number”—this is the identification number you will need when and if you choose to call the credit bureau to correct any misinformation on your credit report.
  • Note your Social Security Number (SSN). It may be “masked” for your security (in which case, usually only the four final numbers will be shown).
Do you recognize all your previous addresses, employers, and phone numbers? Are your name and your social security number correct? Check all of this thoroughly.
Write down anything that you see that looks incorrect or that you question.
2. Locate your Public Records section.

The Public Records section on your credit report will list court judgments against you, liens, or bankruptcies.

Review the information here thoroughly.

*Note: The Public Records section should also include an estimated date of when any negative items will be removed.

Write down any potential errors or question about your Public Records section here.
3. Locate your Adverse Accounts section.

Your Adverse Accounts section will list any credit accounts in your name that show late or missed payments. It’s important to review this section thoroughly because errors may be lowering your creditworthiness and if you find them here, you can report them and improve your credit.

Negative accounts should be automatically removed after seven years. But you need to check and make sure that they are.

Review the following in your Adverse Accounts section:

  • Check the creditor and balance of each account. Do you recognize it?
  • Review the “Pay Status” of each adverse account. The Pay Status shows the current status of the account. Is it now paid in full or is it still outstanding?
  • Review any “Collateral” items listed in your Adverse Accounts. If you’ve put up collateral for something like a title loan, it will show here. Review these carefully because when it comes to collateral, you DON’T want any surprises.
While you review your Adverse Accounts section, write down any accounts you don’t recognize. You’ll want to inquire about these immediately. Also, write down all your outstanding accounts and the amount you currently owe.
4. Locate your Satisfactory Accounts section.

This section lists all accounts where no adverse information has been reported. Good job! These are the accounts that you are on top of and managing well.

Review the following in your Satisfactory Accounts section:

  • Do you recognize each account?
  • Check the “Pay Status” have you completed paying this debt or are you still paying as agreed?
5. Locate your Personal Statement section.

Your personal statement section is where you can submit a comment or dispute a single credit account that you feel is inaccurate or a more general comment addressing all of your credit history (like if you wanted to explain a period of debt due to unexpected job-loss.)

While you should certainly dispute inaccurate information, be careful about submitting a general comment. Those stay on your credit report for a period of two years (which in some cases might be longer than the negative information will remain on your report).


Sample Dispute Letter

Need help getting started? Use the following template to write a letter to the credit bureau requesting specific information be changed.

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

 

[Credit Bureau Name]

[Credit Bureau Address]

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing today to dispute particular information on my credit report #[you number here]. I have included a copy of my credit report and have marked the information that is [inaccurate or outdated].

Please also see the attached material [list the specific documents that support your claim]:

[Document 1]

[Document 2]

[Document 3]

Because [this particular information] is [inaccurate/outdated] I would like it [removed/adjusted]. Please contact me once this information has been corrected or let me know if there are questions I can answer to further clarify.
Thank you,

[Your signature]

[Your printed name]

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