Frequently Asked Questions

Your credit reports contain your personal information, such as your name, current and pervious addresses, social security number, and date of birth. Other personal information that may be included is your current and previous employers.

Installment loans, student loans, real estate mortgages, credit cards, signature loans, and one-time payment notes are examples of the types of loans that may be included.

Charged-off loans, foreclosures, accounts sent to a third-party debt collection agency, tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies are examples of derogatory information that may be included in your credit report.

Finally, a list of businesses that inquired on your credit reports will also appear.

Yes. Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report per year from each credit reporting company. The free reports do not contain a score.

To access your free credit report, visit the website:

Make sure you have personal records available, as you will have to answer secure, identifying questions to access your reports.

No. Each time your credit report is accessed, the business requesting the report must have a Permissible Purpose, as outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. A few examples of permissible purpose-businesses are financial institutions, landlords, credit card companies, insurance companies,auto dealers, employers, home improvement businesses, and cell phone companies. Employers must ask you to sign a waiver allowing them access to an employment credit report, which differs from a report pulled for a credit transaction. Most creditors also ask you to sign a waiver or application giving them permission to access your credit report.

Each credit reporting company has a consumer dispute department. After reviewing your credit report for errors, you can file a dispute with the reporting agency online, or by mail. Keep all original copies for your records, and provide copies to the agency so they can properly investigate your claim. See "Free Consumer Credit Report" section for additional information.

A divorce decree is an agreement between parties who filed. It does not have any bearing on your personal responsibility to your creditor, unless the creditor contractually released you from repayment for a joint debt with your ex-spouse. Most bills for minor children are the responsibility of both parents in most states. You would need to contact your creditor individually to work with them to resolve any outstanding accounts, and check your state laws regarding divorce liability for additional information.

The Federal Credit Reporting Statute is 7 years from the date of last activity. The only items that can remain on a credit report for over 7 years are Bankruptcies (10 years), Tax Liens, and some governmental loans.

If a debt is not able to be verified, it must be deleted. Any account that has not had activity in the past 7 years is automatically deleted. A personal credit report may contain items that are older than 7 years, but a credit report accessed by a business does not contain credit items that are over 7 years old. Some creditors will remove paid collections, but if the debt is valid, even if it is paid, it can remain on the report for 7 years. New regulations are pending for medical debt that may change the length of time they are reported.

Information that impacts a credit score includes, but may not be limited to:

  • Payment Record: The number of payments and the severity of late payment history
  • Amount Owed: The type, number, and age of accounts, and total open balance debt
  • Credit History: The length of time a consumer has had a credit history, within the last seven years
  • Delinquencies: Repossessions, foreclosures, accounts sent to third-party debt collection agencies, and delinquent loans
  • Public Records: Judgments, tax liens, other liens, and bankruptcies
  • Inquiries: The number of inquiries within a given time frame

Pay down high-balance credit cards, make sure all payments are made on time, and don't over-extend credit cards. Keep in mind that several inquiries to your credit reports over a short period of time can affect your credit score. Over time, previous delinquent accounts that have been paid will have a lesser affect on your credit score.


**The information contained in this section is not intended to be legal advice.

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