Credit files are windows into your private life, they are
your financial fingerprints, your payment history, your available
credit and your address records, all recorded with or without
your consent. Lenders look at your credit history to assess
your creditworthiness. Itís to your advantage to know
what your credit report says before you apply for credit so
you can correct any inaccurate data. It can take up to six
months for credit reporting agencies to investigate and make
a change in your credit report - give yourself at least 12
months to correct your data before you start shopping for
a mortgage, car or any other large purchase.
With the increasing importance of credit in our society
today comes the growing importance of knowing your own credit
credit reports can now be obtained from many different agencies
and can be used to benefit those requesting them in several
A good credit history opens financial doors that may
be closed to those with a less than perfect credit history.
Past mistakes donít mean that youíre forever doomed, though.
There is hope for individuals of all types of credit histories.
Requesting a free credit report can let you know where you
stand and may give you tips on how to improve your credit.
Did You Know?
Do you know how long information stays on your credit report?
Reporting times vary from state to state, but here are some
averages for you to gauge the length of time information will
stay on your credit report:
- Good credit behavior: indefinitely
- Delinquencies (late payments): seven years
- Bankruptcies: 7 to 10 years
- Collections and charge-offs: seven years
- Closed accounts: seven years from date closed (if zero
balance), or seven years from final payment (if closed with
- Tax liens Ė seven years if paid, up to fifteen years if
You are eligible to get a free copy of your own credit
If you have been denied credit, employment, or insurance
within the last 60 days, you can take the written proof
of your denial and mail it to the credit bureaus, requesting
a free report.
If you have been charged higher rates and fees based on
a credit report issued by a credit bureau, you have the
right to get a free copy from that bureau.
If you are unemployed and aim to seek employment within
the next 60 days, you can certify this in writing for the
If you are on welfare.
If you write to say you were a victim of fraud.
When you get the report, review your credit file to
verify the following:
Social Security Number
Date of Birth
All accounts listed are your own
Outstanding balances/limits on the accounts
Derogatory credit information
Some states have laws requiring the bureaus (Equifax®,
to provide one free credit report per year. You can also order
your own credit report online at any time.
You may benefit from requesting a credit report by knowing
and understanding your financial security to a greater degree.
It also may help you protect yourself from identity fraud,
one of the fastest growing crimes in the US. It can also help
you verify that you have been given honest rates of interest
on loans, and that there are no errors on your credit report.
Avoid overspending, establish a budget, correct your credit
report, add positive information to your credit file and maintain