How are credit reports and background reports used?
Banks use credit reports to determine eligibility for mortgages and loans. Credit card companies use credit reports to determine whether to extend credit and if so, at what interest rate. Employers use credit reports to decide whether to hire, promote or fire employees. Landlords use credit reports and background reports to evaluate your rental or lease application. Credit report errors and background report errors can keep you from getting credit, a job, housing and insurance.
Credit reports are divided into several sections. One section includes your personal information. This may include your name, Social Security number, date of birth, addresses, telephone numbers and employment information. The credit reporting agencies, Such as Equifax®, Experian™ and TransUnion®, obtain this information from your existing and potential creditors. The credit bureaus may obtain the information from other consumer reporting agencies.
Credit reports include public record information. Bankruptcies, civil judgments and tax liens are considered public record information. Credit reporting agencies obtain public record information from courthouses electronically and manually.
Credit reports include accounts, including open, closed and collection accounts. Accounts generally are listed with the negative accounts first, but some credit bureaus may list all accounts in alphabetical order. Derogatory accounts reduce your credit score. Derogatory accounts include accounts with a past due balance, late payment history, over credit limit or a status listed as charge off or collection.
Credit reports includes inquiries. If a company is listed in the inquiry section, then the company obtained your credit information from the consumer reporting agency in the previous 2 years. The date of the inquiry is listed so that you will know when the company obtained credit report information about you.
There are two types of credit inquiries. First, hard inquiries are seen by others and reduce your credit score. Second, soft inquiries are inquiries that are shared only with you and are not considered when calculating your credit score.
Consumers should review their credit reports regularly to check for credit report errors. Under federal law, consumers have the right to a free credit report from the credit bureaus at least once every twelve months. Click Annual Credit Report Request Form to order your free credit report from Equifax®, Experian™ and TransUnion®. We do not recommend that you order your report on the Internet or by telephone. Contact us to learn how to order your free credit report.
When you receive your credit reports, you should check them very carefully for errors. An incorrect address, name or date of birth could mean your file is mixed with another person. If you find an account or public record that does not belong to you, then you may be a victim of identity theft.
By reviewing your credit report on a regular, you may be able to detect identity theft . Credit reports errors may be a red flag that you are a victim of identity theft. Incorrect information on your credit report caused by an identity thief can keep you from getting a job, credit or insurance.
Dispute credit report errors – it’s your right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). If any of these sections contain incorrect information on your credit report, then you should dispute the credit report errors by certified mail to each of the credit agencies.
We represent consumers who have credit report errors and who have made credit report disputes. We represent clients in individual lawsuits and class action lawsuits against credit reporting agencies, employers, creditors and debt collectors. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy of credit reports and the privacy of personal information. Under federal law, consumers have the right to get a free credit report:
Once every 12 months consumers can order an Annual Credit Report (free credit report).
When a company takes adverse action, such as a denial of credit or employment or approves you for credit but with unfavorable credit terms, such as a high interest rate or requiring a deposit.
If you are unemployed and looking for a job in the next 60 days, then you have the right to order a free credit report. If you are looking for a job, it is a good idea to review your credit report before your future employer does. This right gives consumers the opportunity to dispute and correct credit report errors before turning in a job application. The FCRA also provides employees with important rights when employers conduct background checks.
If you are a recipient of public assistance, then you have the right to a free credit report. Public assistance includes Medicare and Social Security.
If you are an ID Theft victim, then you have a right to a free credit report. In fact, as an ID Theft victim, you may order 2 free credit reports every 12 months from the credit bureaus.
Some state laws provide consumers with additional rights to a free credit. For example, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont allow consumers with the right to order a free credit report. In Georgia, consumers have the right to order 2 free credit reports per year.
Once you get your reports you should check each report for errors. Under the FCRA, consumer reporting agencies are responsible for correcting inaccurate or fraudulent information on your credit report after you dispute the credit report error. In other words, credit bureaus must investigate your dispute and delete incorrect information.
HOW DO I DISPUTE CREDIT REPORT AND BACKGROUND REPORT ERRORS?
Notify the credit reporting agency in writing of the information you believe is incorrect.
Include copies of supporting documents, such as proof of payment or an ID Theft Affidavit .
Include your contact information, name, address, and Social Security number.
Mail your dispute by certified mail and request a return receipt.
Keep your letter simple and clear. Explain what information is inaccurate and why. Ask the credit reporting agency to delete the inaccurate information from your credit file.
Keep a copy of the dispute letter for future reference, especially if you have to hire a FCRA lawyer.
Contact The Adkins Firm if the credit bureaus do not correct errors your credit report or background report. Consumers have the right to sue the credit reporting bureaus and data furnishers in federal court for violations of the FCRA.
Click HERE to download a free sample credit report dispute form.
If you have reviewed your credit report and disputed the incorrect or fraudulent information, and the credit reporting agency has refused to remove the false credit report or background report information, then you may be entitled under federal law to recover money damages. Contact Fair Credit Reporting Act attorney Micah Adkins for a free case review.