There are three main national consumer credit reporting agencies (CRAs): Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Equifax Information Services, LLC, and TransUnion, LLC (the "Big Three").
Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (CRAs) all collect information from court records, banks, credit card companies, mortgage companies, finance companies, department stores, cellular phone companies, court records, and many other companies issuing consumer credit. Each CRA does not necessarily report the same credit information for a consumer because not all creditors report to all three agencies. The information reported about a consumer may not be identical in each credit report published by each CRA. This is confusing for many consumers.
Your credit report is not a paper file kept by the CRAs. This is part of the reason correcting errors on your credit report can be so frustrating. The CRAs store information reported about you electronically in a database. When a CRA receives information from your creditors the data is received electronically and identifiable with your personal identifying information such as your name, date of birth, social security number.
When a creditor requests your credit history information this is called an inquiry or "credit pull". The CRAs electronically pull a consumer’s credit information through a defined algorithm based on your personal identifying information as mentioned above. The defined search algorithm is supposed to filter out obsolete credit information and credit information that doesn't belong to you. The remaining information is combined into one credit report and most of the time submitted back to the creditor in electronic format. Your credit information changes based on when your creditors report information about you each month.
You may obtain a free copy of your credit report online once every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. You may obtain your reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
If you are denied credit, You are also entitled to a free credit report within 60 days of the credit denial from the CRA that provided your credit information to the potential creditor. The specific CRA will be listed on the notice or letter that you receive from the creditor that denied your credit application.
When you obtain your credit report the CRA may include a pamphlet or similar paperwork explaining how to read their particular format. However, to help you understand your report, we have included a description of each section below.
This section should include your name, address, social security number, date of birth, any former addresses, your present or past employer's name, and phone numbers including home, work and cell.
There are two main types of credit accounts reflected under your credit history. The first is revolving credit - meaning the minimum amount owed may be definite, but the payment due each month can be variable. This is typical of credit cards. The second type are installment accounts – like mortgages and student loans - a definite amount due in fixed installments. Underneath each account, it should reflect how and when payments were made on each account. If your payments have been timely, the account should reflect “paid as agreed”, However, if you have a history of late payments, the CRAs reflect these payments for example as 30, 60, 90, or 120 days past due and how many times this has occurred. (some CRAs reflect past due dates beyond 150 days). If an account has not been paid timely for some time, the creditor may reflect your account as a “charge off”. This means that the account has been written off by the creditor as a loss. In some instances when an account is paid off after a creditor has considered the account as a loss, the account may reflect that it as a “paid charge off”.
Collection accounts can be defaulted or charged off debts or in some instances medical bills. Collection agencies are often debt buyers that purchase big portfolios of charged off debts, often times for pennies on the dollar.
These records are usually obtained by a contractor that works for the CRAs. The contractor researches public records maintained by various courts and county records offices and then reports this information back to the CRAs. Bankruptcies, judgments, satisfaction of judgments, tax liens, releases of tax liens, and foreclosures and examples of public records.
Once you have identified that you have inaccurate information on your credit report, it is critical that you speak to an attorney who understands the various rights afforded to you by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). We are here to help The FCRA requires that you dispute the inaccurate information with the CRAs. The CRAs then must investigate by relating your dispute to the specific creditor that reported the information. This is done electronically. Thereafter, the creditor must investigate the disputed information and return its results to the CRAs, also electronically. The CRAs must notify you of the results of the investigation of your dispute within 30 days. (45 days if you have obtained your credit report through www.annualcreditreport.com)
We will be happy to guide you through this process, please contact us because we are here to help you.