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Your credit report contains a list of every member creditor who has lent you money or provided you with credit in any way. It shows your charge accounts, automobile loans, bank and student loans, home mortgage, and any other credit-related transaction. It shows when the credit line was opened, the highest amount you ever borrowed, how much you owe now, and whether you've missed any payments or were late.
Your credit report also contains certain items known as "Public Records". Public Records include any credit-related lawsuits that you may have been involved in as well as liens, repossessions, foreclosures, judgments and bankruptcies.
Credit bureaus also report the names of other member creditors who have made inquiries into your account. If a potential lender sees too many recent inquiries, they might not grant you credit if they feel that you are getting overextended.
There are, however, two types of inquiries that are part of your record but are never seen by creditors. There are inquiries made by you, on your own behalf, and inquiries made by companies that send you all of those unsolicited credit card and loan offers that you get in the mail. So, while these offers may be annoying to some, the good news is that you are not being penalized by them.
How am I identified in my credit report?
Your credit report lists your name, current and previous addresses, Social Security Number, Date of Birth, Spouses Name (if you are married) and your employer.
What other personal information do "they" know about me?
Nothing. By law, your credit report cannot contain information about your race, religious beliefs, political affiliations, sexual preferences, criminal records, or any other lifestyle issues.
How far back does my credit report go?
Positive or "good" credit information remains on your report for as long as you have an active credit relationship with the creditor and for up to seven years after that relationship ends satisfactorily.
Negative, or "bad credit" remains for seven years except for bankruptcies which remain for up to 10 years. The public record information that we mentioned earlier can remain for up to seven years after you remedy the problem that caused the information to appear in the first place.
An unpaid judgment, which is an amount of money that a court has decided that you owe as the result of you're having lost some legal action against you, such as not paying a bill which resulted in the creditor taking you to court, can remain on your report for up to 7 years AFTER you pay the judgment, and will remain indefinitely if you do not pay it.
Creditor inquiries generally stay on you report for up to two years.
How do I get a copy of my report and is it free?
As of September 1, 2005 consumers in all 50 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories are now eligible to receive a free credit report from EACH of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies once per year.
Read more about the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) here:
To get your free annual credit report contact each of these agencies at:
Equifax Credit Information Services
P.O. Box 74024
Atlanta, GA 30374
The address depends on your situation. If you have been turned down for credit, insurance or employment, it's:
P.O. Box 9600
Allen, TX 75013
If you are on welfare, unemployed but job-hunting, or believe you have been a victim of credit fraud, the address is:
P.O. Box 9532
Allen, TX 75013
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
You are entitled to a free credit report from any agency that provided information that resulted in your being denied credit, insurance or a job if you request it within 60 days of the denial.
There is also a U.S. Federal law, which says that you can get one free credit report per year, directly from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, if you can certify that:
* you are unemployed and will be looking for a job within the next 60 days.
* you are receiving any type of public assistance.
* you believe there are fraudulent entries in your credit report.
If you are lucky enough to be a resident of Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, or Vermont then there are state laws that entitle you to receive one free report from any one credit-reporting agency per year. If you live in Georgia then you may get two.
At LearningAboutCredit.com you'll find tips and insight on topics such as budgeting, credit card management, saving, spending and more. To get your free report, "Learning About Credit: Steps to Take on the Road to YOUR Good Credit" visit http://www.learningaboutcredit.com right now!
About the Author
Angela Smith is the owner of LearningAboutCredit.com. Her goal is to provide you with the knowledge you need to become debt free through sensible financial management. Get your free report, Learning About Credit: Steps to Take on the Road to YOUR Good Credit right now!
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