Up until a few years
ago, it was a mystery as to what your credit rating was because the credit bureaus who
keep track of borrowers wouldn't tell the borrowers anything.
But several laws have changed all that, and the bureaus must send you your credit
history if you request it. Should you have been denied credit based on their record, they
must send you a duplicate of the record free of charge, if you request it within 30
days of the credit denial. If you haven't been denied credit but simply wish to know
precisely what your file says, the amended Fair Credit Reporting Act permits consumers to
request a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months from each of the
three major credit reporting agencies (i.e., Equifax, Experian, Trans Union).
To find out about your credit score, what it is and how it affects you:
Credit reporting agencies make money selling the information they have
in their databank to lending institutions, and others, including information about your
Because of this, it is only prudent that you:
- exercise your legal rights as a consumer
- know what is in your credit file
- make sure they are accurate
- challenge it and have it corrected when necessary.
Consumer credit reporting agencies are required by the Fair Credit
Reporting Act to tell you the contents of your file.
The reasons to contact a Credit Reporting Agency:
- IF DECLINED FOR A LOAN, call the lender who is required by the FCRA to give you the
name, address and phone number of the credit reporting agency it used in evaluating your
- IF YOUR REPORT CONTAINS INACCURATE INFORMATION, you may challenge the inclusion of it in
- IF A LENDER HAS MADE AN ERROR, point it out to the lender and request that corrected
information be sent to the credit reporting agency.
- IF YOU'RE JUST CURIOUS, You can order a free credit report here:
On the Internet: www.annualcreditreport.com
On the phone: call 1-877-322-8228
By mail, complete the credit report request form: Annual
Credit Report Request Form
Request form help file (pdf
and mail to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually.
Information is provided below on the process of fixing your credit report. However, if you
do need information about the specific national agencies, you will find them listed at the
bottom of this page.
Fixing Credit Reports
If your credit report contains inaccurate information, or the report
shows accounts that you never applied for, here is information on how to get it removed:
Bankruptcy and Negative Information
A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative
information for seven years and bankruptcy information for ten years. For more information
on this subject:
Credit Reports and Divorce
If you had a joint account with your spouse, you are both responsible
for the debt even if you are divorced. You are also responsible if you have
cosigned a loan. For more detailed information on this subject see:
THE THREE MAJOR NATIONAL CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-0949
Trans Union (www.transunion.com)
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
In addition to the national agencies, there are a variety of local
credit reporting agencies. Check your telephone directory under headings such as
"Credit Reporting Agencies" for names of similar companies in your area.