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Credit Report Related
Frequently Asked Questions

OUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WILL HELP YOU TO BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR CREDIT REPORT AND CREDIT SCORE ISSUES.

 
 
 

1. What about credit repair companies? 
2. What is Credit Fraud? 
3. What are the signs of credit fraud? 
4. Who can see my credit report? 
5. How long does bad credit history stay on my credit report? 
6. I do not have a credit card. How can I obtain a credit report? 
7. Who is eligible for a free credit report? 
8. What information is included in my credit report? 
9. How often should I check my credit report? 
10. Do credit reporting agencies maintain joint accounts for spouses? 
11. What is a credit score? 
12. What is a credit bureau? Is Legal Helpmate a credit bureau? 
13. Where does a credit bureau get its information? 
14. How does three-bureau credit report differ from a single-bureau credit report? 
15. Do all three credit bureaus have the same information on file? 
16. Will receiving my credit report through you appear as an inquiry on my credit report? 
17. What is a credit score range? 
18. How does my credit score affect me? 
19. Does co-signing a loan affect my credit score? 
20. How do I dispute and correct inaccurate information? 

  You may find your answer at our Discussion Board 

 

What about credit repair companies?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit repair companies cannot do anything that you cannot do for yourself at little or no cost. You do not have to pay a credit repair company to learn what is in your file or to correct inaccurate or incomplete information.
No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report but you can obtain a copy of your credit reports and also dispute mistakes or outdated items to a credit bureau.

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What is Credit Fraud?
It is possible for thieves to cheat you and the people who give you credit. They might steal your credit card and run up a big balance. The more serious damage however is done by using your personal information to obtain and use a credit card or loan. Unless you check your credit report or find that you are denied credit, you may not even know that someone has entered your financial world as you, but for their own benefit. Your credit history can be damaged forever.

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What are the signs of credit fraud?

  • You receive bills for loan or credit cards you did not or accounts you never requested.
  • Your credit line is lowered for no reason.
  • You are not able to get credit, even though your credit history and financial situation are positive and you were always able to get credit in the past.

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Who can see my credit report?
Credit card companies, companies who need information in order to make a decision about granting you a loan, your landlord, and your employer may see your credit report, in addition to doctors, dentists, insurance companies, lawyers, courts, and phone companies. You, as an individual may only obtain a credit report on another individual if The Fair Credit Reporting Act grants credit report access to companies which have a "permissible purpose." The FCRA specifies those purposes as the granting of credit, the collection of a debt, the underwriting of insurance, employment purposes, for issuing a license as required by some government agencies or for a legitimate business transaction between a business and a consumer. Obtaining a credit report under false pretenses, or improper use of a credit report is a violation of federal law. When privacy violations occur, the credit reporting industry notifies the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

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How long does bad credit history stay on my credit report?
Most credit history stays on your file for a maximum of 7 years, except for bankruptcies which stay on for 10 years, unpaid tax liens which remain for 15 years, and positive information which remains indefinitely. Still, if you have defaulted on a loan, your creditors may continue to submit negative.

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I do not have a credit card. How can I obtain a credit report?
You cannot obtain a credit report online without a credit card since companies use your credit card for verification purposes that you are really "who" you are claiming to be.

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Who is eligible for a free credit report?
Based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act, sections 612 (b), (c), and (d), you are entitled to one free credit report per year directly from a credit reporting agency only if you certify that you are unemployed and seeking employment in the next 60 days, you are receiving public assistance, or you believe there are inaccuracies in your report due to fraud or have been denied credit because of information on your credit report. To get your free credit report, go directly to a credit reporting bureau and have proof of the criteria that entitles you to receive your free credit report.

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What information is included in my credit report?
Your personal credit report contains such information as your name, current and previous addresses, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth, and current and previous employers. Your spouse's name may appear on your version of the credit report, but it will not appear on the version that is provided to others. This information comes from your credit applications, so its accuracy depends on your filling out the forms clearly, completely and consistently each time you apply for credit.
 
It will show specific information about each account such as the date opened, credit limit or loan amount, balance, monthly payment and payment pattern during the past several years. This information comes from companies that do business with you.
 
It also shows federal district bankruptcy records and state and county court records of tax liens and monetary judgments.
 
Your credit report will also show the names of those who have obtained a copy of your credit report This information comes from the credit reporting agency.
 
Your credit report will show statements of dispute. These statements give both consumers and creditors the opportunity to report the factual history of an account. Statements of dispute can only be added after a consumer officially disputes the status of an account, the account has been reinvestigated, and the consumer and creditor cannot agree about the account status. Both the consumer's and creditor's statements of the account status will appear on the credit report.
 
Most credit reports do not contain data about race, religious preference, personal lifestyle, political preference, medical history, friends, criminal record or any other information unrelated to credit.

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How often should I check my credit report?
Since your credit report plays a major role when you apply for a credit card, auto loan, mortgage, employment screening, utilities deposits and insurance, it is to your advantage to know what is on your credit report before applying for credit or a loan. Many financial experts agree that you should check your credit report at least once a month. Creditors generally send updates to the credit bureaus once every month. If your credit report would show you to be risky to a prospective lender, it is a good idea to try and clean the information up prior to applying for the loan.
 
Because of the explosive growth of identity theft, it is especially important to check periodically.

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Do credit reporting agencies maintain joint accounts for spouses?
No. The credit reporting agencies maintain individual credit files for each U.S. resident. They do not maintain joint files for spouses. Therefore, your credit report is separate and different from that of your spouse.

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What is a credit score?
A credit score is a number lenders use to decide whether you will pay your loan on time. It is generated through statistical models using elements from your credit report. Your score is not physically stored as part of your credit history on the credit file but instead is typically generated at the time a lender requests your credit report and then included as part of the report. Your credit score changes as the elements in your credit report change. For example, payment updates or a new account could cause your score to fluctuate. Credit scores are affected by such information as the number and severity of late payments, type, number and age of accounts, total debt, and recent inquiries.

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What is a credit bureau? Is Legal Helpmate a credit bureau?
A credit bureau is an agency that gathers information about consumer's credit relationships and provides creditors with credit reports and scores on consumers. Legal Helpmate is not a credit bureau but it uses them to give you your credit report information.

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Where does a credit bureau get its information?
Credit Bureaus collect and organize information about you and your credit history from public records, your creditors and other reliable sources.

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How does three-bureau credit report differ from a single-bureau credit report?
The three-bureau report includes your complete information from all three credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, & Trans Union. A single-bureau credit report contains your information on file at only one of those three bureaus.

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Do all three credit bureaus have the same information on file?
No, because lenders send information to some and not others. Credit bureaus receive so many pieces of data each month that mistakes are definitely going to happen. Credit reports are available from three main reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, and they do not exchange information with each other.

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Will receiving my credit report through you appear as an inquiry on my credit report?
Anytime your credit report is pulled - including when you order a copy of your credit report directly from the credit bureau - an inquiry is added to your report. Inquiries added when you request a copy of your credit report or when an employer checks your credit report do not appear to creditors and do not affect the calculation or your credit score. Inquiries initiated by the consumer, such as mortgage, auto loan and credit card applications, however, do affect your score because studies have shown that too many are a red flag for credit risk.

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What is a credit score range?
Credit scores range from 350 to 850 a higher number represents a stronger financial position.

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How does my credit score affect me?
Credit scores, calculated from such information in your credit file as total debt, types of accounts, number of late payments, age of accounts, and number of inquiries, give lenders a subjective rating of your creditworthiness. Lenders then consider this rating when deciding whether or not to extend you credit.

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Does co-signing a loan affect my credit score?
Yes, any loan or credit card account affects your score.

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How do I dispute and correct inaccurate information?
Immediately call and write the credit bureau that reported the inaccurate information (send by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep copies). The bureau will then check with the original source. If this inaccuracy persists, add a statement to the credit report specifying why the item is wrong. This dispute process can take up to 30 days.

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