Credit Bureaus – What You Need To Know!
A credit bureau, or credit repository, is an entity that gathers information about consumers' credit histories. Your credit history/report includes information regarding the following items: Identi...
A credit bureau, or credit repository, is an entity that gathers information about consumers' credit histories. Your credit history/report includes information regarding the following items:
Credit bureaus sell credit reports to credit grantors, such as banks, finance companies, and retailers. Credit grantors use credit reports to determine whether or not a potential borrower is creditworthy.
There are three major credit bureaus in the United States:
Equifax: 800-685-1111 website: www.equifax.com
Experian: 888-397-3742 website www.experian.com
Trans Union: 800-916-8800 website: www.transunion.com
These three bureaus provide nationwide coverage of consumer credit information. The credit bureaus are a for-profit system that generates billions of dollars in revenue each year from selling copies of credit reports to creditors and mailing lists. Trans Union made 1.5 BILLION dollars last year.
It is essential to understand that Credit Bureaus are nothing more than record keepers. Simply put, they keep a record of who has given you credit, when they gave you credit, how much credit you are given and whether or not you paid it back on time. When you want to obtain credit cards, loans, financing for a car or home, leases, apartments and sometimes even employment, the lender or bank will check your credit to see your financial history.
Credit Bureaus are paid by the people who request your credit file. Credit Bureaus are not run by banks, police, or government and they have no legal power over you. So don't be intimidated by them.
They are the Credit Bureaus because they own large computer systems capable of storing credit information on everyone in the United States. However, because of the tremendous amounts of information on their computers, their method of storing information is very basic and contains numerous errors.
Since the bureaus have made so many errors in the past, all Federal Laws regarding credit information is very much in your favor.
How do the credit bureaus obtain information?
Credit bureaus obtain identification and credit information from credit grantors, such as banks, retailers, and collection agencies. Bureaus obtain monetary-related public record information directly from the court systems.
How long do the credit bureaus keep my credit information?
The credit bureaus keep your personal credit history for a period of approximately ten years.
- Closed or Inactive Accounts - 10 years from the date of last activity.
- Derogatory Accounts - 7 years from the date of original delinquency.
- Public Records - 7 years from the date of payment or indefinitely if the Public Record is an unpaid tax lien.
- Chapter 7 Bankruptcies - 10 years from date filed.
There is no time limit on reporting: information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance.
What are the laws governing credit bureaus?
Congress passed the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in 1972 to curb the abuses of the credit reporting bureaus. The FCRA is the governing federal law on the issue of credit reporting. The Fair Credit Reporting Act helps consumers promote and use their right to make changes to credit reports. It is a requirement, under section 1681e, that:
(b) Whenever a consumer reporting agency prepares a consumer report, it shall follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom the report relates. Further, the FCRA provides a procedure in case of disputed accuracy, under section 1681 i whereby a consumer can demand that an investigation be made into the completeness or accuracy of any information in a credit report. If the status of the information cannot be determined, the data must be removed or corrected. The FCRA states:
(a) If the completeness or accuracy of any item of information contained in his file is disputed by a consumer, and such dispute is directly conveyed to the consumer reporting agency by the consumer, the consumer reporting agency shall within a reasonable period of time reinvestigate and record the current status of that information unless it has reasonable grounds to believe that the dispute by the consumer is frivolous or irrelevant. If after such reinvestigation such information is found to be inaccurate or can no longer be verified, the consumer reporting agency shall promptly delete such information. The presence of contradictory information in the consumer's file does not in and of itself constitute reasonable grounds for believing the dispute is frivolous or irrelevant.
How do errors occur and how frequently?
Depending on the source of your statistics, estimates of credit bureaus errors run as high 90%. The Attorney General of New York State has estimated that credit bureau errors are in at least one-third of all reports, the United States Congress has estimated that errors exist in at least one half of all reports, a Consumers Union study found errors in 40% of credit files and the Charles Givens Organization conducted a study in which 90% of the credit reports reviewed contained errors.
You have the right under the FCRA to remedy all file information that is irrelevant, not properly utilized, inaccurate, incomplete, misleading or does not reflect your creditworthiness, credit standing or credit capacity.
REMEMBER: THE PRACTICE OF CHALLENGING CREDIT DATA AND SECURING CREDITOR-BASED TRADE LINE DELETIONS ARE WHOLLY WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF THE LAW AND ARE THE RIGHTS OF ALL CONSUMERS.
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