Understanding Credit Reports
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Web: www.phil.frb.org/consumers/creditreport.html.
Just about everyone uses credit, whether it is for car, student, or bank loans; mortgages; or credit cards. Banks and other businesses rely on credit reports, which contain:
Consumer reporting agencies (credit bureaus) obtain the information from various sources, including retail stores and banks.
The report can only be shown to:
The decision to grant you a loan or issue you a credit card is made by the business that requested the report, not the credit bureau.
If you are denied credit, the lender must give you the name, address, and telephone number of the company that provided the report.
Even if you have never been denied credit, you have the right to see your report. In making the request include your name, telephone number, addresses for the last five years, Social Security number, and birth date. The agency may charge you for the report, depending on what state you live in.
You should tell the reporting agency if you disagree with anything in your report. Mistakes must be removed. If the reporting agency stands by its original report, however, you have the right to present your side of the story in a short statement that gets attached to your credit report.
Material stays on your report for seven years—ten years if a bankruptcy is involved; it is automatically deleted thereafter. Exceptions are cases of transactions of $150,000 or more (including life insurance), or employment with an annual salary of $75,000 or more.
To obtain your credit report
The three main credit bureaus are:
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