Do You Even Know What's On Your Credit Score?

It's time to find out!

If you have ever had an adverse account show up on your credit report; you realize how challenging it can be at times to work with the Credit Reporting Agencies.  Contacting the credit reporting agency is only the first step in resolution, but getting a positive result may take some additional work.  There are several things that you should know about the credit reporting agencies that will assist you in having the desired outcome and make the entire process much easier for you.

Top 3 Credit Bureaus

Annual Credit RatingCredit: photo credit: Andres Rueda via photo pin ccThere are three major credit report companies that collect data on your credit history.  The big three are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.  If you need to find out what is located in their files; it’s as simple as doing an online inquiry.  Go to annual credit report website and request all three credit reports.  These copies are free to you once a year based on The Fair Credit Reporting Act.  This is the only site that you should go to if you need a free copy. 

Credit Fraud Alerts

The only time that the three credit reporting companies work together is if you have been a victim of fraud.  All you need to do is contact any one of the credit reporting agencies and let them know that you have been a victim of identity theft and ask them to place a Fraud Alert on your credit reports.  They will immediately notify the other two agencies.  You may contact them by using the following numbers:

Equifax 1-800-525-6285

Experian 1-888-397-3742

Transunion 1-800-680-7289

This initial alert is good for 90 days, after that time you will need to call back to place an additional alert for seven years and provide documentation of your identity.

 Filing Disputes With Credit Reporting Companies

There used to be a time if you needed to dispute some information being reported on your credit report, you had to fill out a form, print, and mail it.  With the advancement of computer technology, all you have to do is go online and file a dispute.  You can go directly to each credit reporting agencies website and dispute any derogatory information showing on that particular report.  Remember, you must file disputes separately for all three agencies to have the information removed from each one.  If your initial dispute does not get the desired results, you can provide additional documentation to the credit bureau or write a one hundred word statement explaining what happened.

The Medical Insurance Bureau

The Medical Insurance Bureau is another reporting agency that you need to be aware of.  They are mentioned on your credit reports as possible providers of additional information.

The MIB has medical information about individuals that is provided to their insurance company customer base.  The information is said to be used to prevent fraud and omission on the part of the individual applying for insurance.  The information is coded which gives an indication of your medical issues.  The codes also report any hazardous behavior and a bad driving history.  You are entitled to one free copy per year of this report as well, thanks to the Fair and Accurate Transactions Act (FACTA).  

Co-signing and Joint Accounts Can Effect Your Credit

Fix Your CreditCredit: photo credit: TravisTruman via photo pin ccIf you attempt to help someone else establishes credit by cosigning for a vehicle or some other high dollar item; your credit becomes their credit.  If you and your spouse purchase something together, either of your actions can affect your credit as well.  It’s not up to the credit reporting agencies to determine who is at fault for failure to pay on time or not paying at all.  If both of your names are on an account, the negative information will appear on both of your reports.  Many people believe that once they are divorced, whomever the judge decides is responsible for their debt owes the creditor.  Creditors don’t agree; if you are both on the account you will still be penalized.  This can mean that even though your ex-mate got the car, if you want your credit to stay positive; you may have to continue to make payments.

Why You Need To Check Your Credit Rating

Credit Reporting Agencies are in place to help creditors figure out if you are a good credit risk.  By knowing some simple facts about the agencies you can ensure that your credit is always being reported correctly.  Once a year order all three reports, order your MIB, file disputes online as needed, and understand the consequences of co-signing for someone or having a joint account.  This information can help you to become well on your way to establishing and maintaining great credit.