Reviewing Your Credit Report

Your credit report compiles information about your account history, spending and payment habits. The report also includes information about your employment, residential history and other identifying information such as your birth date and social security number. Creditors use this report, along with your credit score, to determine how much risk they should expect if they decide to extend credit to you.

If your credit report suggests that extending credit to you would be a very great risk you will probably have a difficult time getting a car loan, credit card, and in some cases a job. Many of today’s employers are now checking credit reports before extending employment to potential applicants.

You can improve your chances of getting a loan at favorable rates and terms by adopting fiscally sound behaviors that demonstrate credit worthiness. If you have had problems in the past, don’t worry, you can improve your credit report with time and diligence.

Here are a few tips to help get you started.

1. Get a copy of your credit report.
Contact each of the three credit bureaus for current copies of your credit report. You should do this at least annually. Contact these bureaus via the Internet at www.experian.com, www.equifax.com, and www.transunion.com. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report if you have been denied credit recently. You are also entitled to one free credit report annually whether or not you have had a credit application declined. You can access one report from each of the three agencies by logging onto www.annualcreditreport.com. It is important to get reports for each of the three agencies as the reports often contain different information. You cannot assume that because one report is error or blemish free that the same will be the case with the other two.

2. Review your credit report
Once you have received your credit report review it carefully for errors or outdated information. You should submit corrections in writing to the appropriate bureau and to the concerned creditor. In some cases, information submitted to one credit reporting agency will be disseminated to the other two with no further action from you. If you believe your report contains unfairly negative items, and attempts to have the items removed prove fruitless you may be able to include a brief note explaining your side of the story with your credit report.

3. Pay all of your bills on time
Late payments can have an extremely negative impact on your credit rating. Your credit report details each late payment, including the number of days and times, for every account listed. Although establishing a new habit of paying bills on time will not erase a previous history of late payments, potential creditors will be most interested in your more recent habits when making credit determinations.

Your credit report gives potential creditors important information about how you might potentially manage any credit extended to you. You can present a more convincing credit profile by demonstrating stability in terms of employment and residential history; and by paying bills on time.

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