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Get Your Credit Reports

Are you wondering what all the fuss is about credit reports?  Or perhaps you’ve just been turned down for a job or an apartment because of your credit report.  If this sounds like you, then maybe you need a quick lesson about what it is.  Let’s start with the basics...continued below

What is it?

Anytime you borrow money from someone, your record of re-payment will be public record.  Every time you make a payment on time—or late—it will go on your record.  In addition, every time someone requests a copy of your credit report, that will be noted as well.  If you are involved in a bankruptcy, or have a tax lien, it will all go on the report.

So, Who Cares?

A credit report is often thought of as something that lenders use when deciding whether or not to extend credit.  That’s true—you won’t be able to apply for a credit card, car loan or mortgage without the potential lender first checking to see if you’re a good credit risk.  But there’s more.  Insurance companies are now using credit reports to determine whether or not someone would be a good risk, as are employers.  And don’t even think of renting an apartment, house or commercial space without a good credit report!

How Do I Get A Copy Of Mine?

So, you think that you’d better see what’s on yours?  There are three credit reporting agencies, and it’s a good idea to get a copy of your report from all three—just in case there are discrepancies.  They are:

  Experian (located at
  Trans Union (located at )
  Equifax (located at )

You will have to provide the credit reporting agencies with your full legal name, your current address, as well as your last (if you’ve been at your current one for less than five years), your date of birth, social security number and a signature.  You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report per year, but you will need a copy from all three agencies.  Plan on paying a small fee to receive the other copies. 

What Are All These Free Credit Reports I Keep Hearing About?

It also may be possible to get a free copy of your credit report if you meet certain requirements.  They are:

* You don’t have a job, but plan to look for one within the next two months.
* You’ve been the victim of credit identify fraud or some other fraud that will affect your report.
* You are currently on welfare
* You’ve recently been turned down for credit

I Don’t Like What I See!

If your credit report has bad marks on it, you’ll have two courses of action, and that depends on whether or not the marks are true.  If you have made some mistakes in the past, there is no magic formula that will erase them!  You will have to get some help—either through a credit counseling company—or simply work to pay off your debts and be on time with your payments.  Those marks will stay on your report for seven years—or ten years for a bankruptcy.

If you find that there are false statements on your credit report, you have some options to clear them up.  You should write a letter to each credit reporting agency explaining the mistake, along with any proof that you have to back up your claims—such as paid receipts—and then wait.  They will have 30 days to investigate the claim and make a decision.

Having a good credit report is key to a successful financial live.  If you’ve never seen yours—take the step now and get a copy!