Annual Credit Report - Get it, Fix it
Authored By: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
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Get a Free Credit Report - Three main credit reporting agencies
Each is required to give YOU a FREE copy of your credit report every 12 months. Check your credit report every four months alternating among these 3 agencies and your reports will be free!
How to Fix Your Credit Report
How do I find out what is in my credit report?
As a rule, it is a good idea to get a copy of your credit report at least once a year to make sure that it is correct. Your credit report will show what accounts have been opened with your name and social security number. You should request a report from each of the main reporting agencies. To request copies of your credit report from each agency call:
Trans Union 800-916-8800
If you have not try to get credit in the last sixty days, these agencies may charge you a small fee for your credit report. However, you can also obtain a free report in a twelve month period if:
1) You are unemployed and will be seeking employment in the next sixty days;
2) You are on public welfare assistance; or
3) You suspect your report has inaccurate information due to fraud.
Even if none of these situations apply, the credit-reporting agency cannot charge you more than $8 for your report.
Once you get your report, look at it very carefully.
Make sure there are no mistakes. It is common to find that there is incorrect information in your credit file.
What do I do if there is incorrect information in my credit file?
You should send a written letter to each credit agency that has reported incorrect information.
In your letter you should state what information is incorrect. The credit-reporting agency must investigate the information and correct it if it is wrong.
You can also contact the creditor who has reported the incorrect information. The creditor must correct any wrong information that it has sent to a credit-reporting agency. For example, if the creditor reported your account as delinquent, but had agreed with you to accept late payments for a period of time, you could contact the creditor to fix the reporting error.
What if the credit-reporting agency verifies the information, but I still disagree?
You have the legal right to place a 100-word statement in your file describing your side of the dispute. The credit-reporting agency must give this statement to anyone requesting your credit report and anyone who received your report in the last six months.
Be careful!! The 100-word statement may not always be the best approach. For example, if you are simply in a disagreement with a creditor, it may be better to give an explanation in person rather than have a statement in your file for seven years, especially if the information may be removed when your disagreement is settled.
Also if the credit-reporting agency insists on keeping wrong information in your file, you could go to the creditor for help. For example, if it is a debt that you do not believe you owe, ask the creditor to provide you with the documentation that you owe them. If the creditor can't document the debt, they must notify the credit-reporting agency.
I have a lot of old debts on my credit report, is there any way to remove them?
Information about your accounts can only be reported for seven years from the date that you first became delinquent. If any debt information on your report is older than that, you should send a written letter to the agency, as noted above. Remember, a bankruptcy can be reported on your credit report for up to ten years.
*** IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOU MAY BE A VICTIM OF IDENTITY THEFT YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CONTACT THE ABOVE AGENCIES AND ASK THEM TO PLACE A FRAUD ALERT ON YOUR FILE. ***
- Contact the Social Security Administration's Fraud Hotline at 800-269-0271.
- File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by telephone or email by contacting their Identity Theft Hotline by telephone at 877-IDTHEFT, TDD: 202-326-2502.
- You can also contact the FTC by mail at: Identity Theft Clearinghouse, 600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20580-0001.