A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. Your credit score is a number from 300 to 850 that is intended to reflect your creditworthiness and is based on credit history. Credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for loans, insurance, employment, or renting a home. For example, the higher your credit score, the more financially trustworthy a bank considers you.
You're entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Order online from annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.
Watch out for other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring,” as these services usually charge unnecessary fees. And avoid “imposter” websites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information.
Send a certified letter to the credit reporting agency and a copy to the business that reported the wrong information. Include the name of the business that reported the incorrect information, why the information is wrong, and copies of receipts, cancelled checks, or other documents that prove the information is wrong.
For more information and sample dispute letters, click here.
Credit repair companies promise to improve your credit. They may also promise to get you a loan or a credit card. They lead you to believe they have special ways to get negative information off your credit report, but they don’t. Credit repair companies have no special powers to improve your credit. There is nothing they can do for you that you cannot do yourself. Paying them leaves you less money to pay your current bills and past debts.
For more information on credit repair scams, click here.