Credit Reporting

Are you not getting the credit you deserve? Are there errors on your credit report that are keeping you from getting approved for a new car or house? Is one of your creditors reporting false information about you? Is the credit bureau mixing someone else’s credit files with yours because that person’s name or social security number is similar to yours? Has your privacy been violated? Has someone accessed your credit report without your permission? I’ve posted detailed step by step instructions for clearing errors from your credit report. I’ll also fill you in on your rights when someone has obtained your report illegally.

Your credit report is probably the most important financial document you have. Unfortunately, you have little control over it. It is shockingly easy for people who shouldn’t see your report to get a copy of it. There have been reports of car dealers using binoculars to read the license plates of cars pulling onto their lots and using that information to pull credit reports before the potential customer even speaks to a sales person. It’s not hard for a business to get an account with a credit reporting agency and some businesses do not adequately enforce security procedures to protect the privacy of credit information. If someone who works for a business that pulls credit reports is trying to snoop into your business, they can easily do so.

It is also shockingly easy for bad information to be inserted into your report. None of the major credit reporting bureaus require that the identifying information in a report exactly match the identifying information provided to them by creditors and others supplying information for the report. If you have a similar name or address to another person and 7 out of 9 of your social security number digits match, there’s a good chance that other person’s information is going to end up on your report at some point.

Although there are standards for how creditors and credit bureaus exchange information to be included in credit reports, each creditor is responsible for implementing those standards on its own and credit bureaus are not very strict in rejecting non-standard formats. As a result, there are systemic errors, particularly when there is more than one name associated with an account. For example, if you have co-signed a loan for someone who later filed bankruptcy, you shouldn’t be surprised if their bankruptcy shows up on your report, as many creditors do not properly report this information.

Some creditors, particularly debt collectors, game the system. For example, most debts are supposed to be removed from your report after seven years. However, debt collectors have been known to falsify the dates on accounts in order to keep them on a report longer than seven years.

Identity thieves can wreak havoc on a report in a matter of weeks. By fraudulently opening accounts in your name they not only create the appearance that you have bills you aren’t paying, they pollute your identifying information, increasing the chances that someone else’s report will be merged with yours.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act
This federal statute gives you the tools you need to protect yourself from credit report errors and to file suit against those who do not respect your right to a private and accurate credit report. The Warybuyer Guide to Correcting Credit Report Errors discusses the most common types of credit reporting errors and explains how to deal with them. I’ve also developed Action Letters for each type of problem that you can easily adapt to your situation.