Lenders determine whether to extend a loan to you based on the information in your credit report. If they decide to offer the loan, they will use that information to determine what interest rate and payment terms they will provide. It is important that your credit report be accurate and that you are aware of the information it contains before seeking a loan.
As a part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the national credit reporting companies – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – are required to provide you with a free copy of your report once every 12 months at your request.
What Is Contained in a Credit Report
The three national credit reporting companies each produce a separate report, and the information on each may be different. Some lenders report to one or more agencies, but not the others.
Your credit report will be formatted slightly differently for each company. The basic sections, however, are the same.
The section with your personal information contains details about your name, current address, Social Security number and telephone number. It may also contain information about previous employers with their address and the position you held. Finally, it will include any information about bankruptcies, civil judgments or tax liens against you.
This is the heart of your credit report and contains all your current lines of credit. Each section here will contain the:
- Creditor name
- Type of loan
- Credit limit or highest credit balance
- Monthly payment amount
- Current balance
- Payment history
The payment history section shows any time a balance is 30, 60 or 90 days late. The creditor information section is what lenders use to determine if you are maxed out on credit cards, frequently late with payments or already paying a lot of debt.
The final section of the report contains any recent credit inquiries. When a potential lender asks for a copy of your credit report, you will see it noted in the creditor inquiries section. Several recent credit inquiries may indicate that you are looking to take on new debt.
How to Request a Copy of Your Report
There are three ways of ordering your reports from the credit reporting companies:
- By phone
- By mail
- Through a central website
When ordering your reports, you may request all three reports at once, or merely one particular report. You are entitled to one report from each agency every 12 months.
Whichever way you request your report, you will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. You may also be asked to provide identifying information, such as the amount of a particular loan payment or the name of the county you lived in five years ago. The identifying information requested will vary with each report you request.
To order your report by mail, print out the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Or call 1-877-322-8228 to request your report over the phone.
The easiest method of requesting your report is to visit annualcreditreport.com and complete the request online. This will also allow you to receive the report immediately after completing the request as a download to your computer.
The above source is the only official website to request your free credit report. The personal information it asks for is only to verify your identity; you are not signing up for any service or product.
There are many websites available that allow you to request a copy of your credit report, but they may also charge you fees or sign you up for a service after a free trial. Annualcreditreport.com will never email you asking for personal information, call you to request information or suggest other services you may need.
Correcting Mistakes on Your Report
If you find information on your report that is inaccurate or fraudulent, each of the three reporting agencies has a process by which you can dispute and correct your report. You must go directly to the reporting company’s website to dispute the information.
To file a dispute with Equifax, go to: https://www.equifax.com/personal/disputes.
To file a dispute with TransUnion, go to: https://www.transunion.com/credit-disputes/dispute-your-credit.
For filing a dispute with Experian, go to: https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/faqs/how-to-dispute-credit-report-information/.
You will need to provide copies of any receipts or loan agreements that prove the information is incorrect, as well as a description as to why the information reported is incorrect. The credit reporting company will investigate your dispute – a process usually completed in 30 days. They will then either remove the information from your report and provide you with another free credit report showing the change, or give you the reason for rejecting your dispute.
You should also contact the lender reporting the incorrect information and request that they correct their reports.
The lender you do business with should be someone you can rely on, someone who understands the needs of those who have less-than-perfect credit. You need dependable transportation, but you may be asking, “How do I get a car with bad credit?”
Red Mountain Funding provides auto financing for bad credit. We are an Arizona-based family company that finances auto loans for everyday people. Red Mountain Funding is a trustworthy company that wants to help everyone get the financing they need – when they need it.