Without a doubt one of the subjects that is the most mysterious to people is the credit report. People have all sorts of misconceptions about the credit report, what it is for and how it is used. So let’s see if I can help breakdown some of these myths.
The reporting of items on your credit report is not mandatory by your creditors. They will voluntarily report your account performance. Vendors or contractors of credit bureaus will gather public record information from courthouses regarding liens and lawsuits. So by its very nature the credit report can’t make any determination about how well you manage your money.
What the credit report does do is to create a risk number, your credit score, based on the information reported. That credit score is then used by current and future lenders to determine the potential for profitability and risk if they have a relationship with you.
A lower credit score may make you the subject of marketing efforts to sell you an expensive subprime credit card. A high credit score can give you access to more credit and less expensive borrowing.
Like everything else in life, a credit report is not perfect. Many credit reports contain errors and incorrect information. But the key to making sure your credit report does not contain such erroneous information is for you to just look it over. You can get a free copy of your major credit bureau reports at AnnualCreditReport.com That website exists to give consumers free access to their credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Each credit report may contain similar but slightly different accounts and information. It really depends on what was reported to each of the credit bureaus.
If you want to pay someone to look over your credit reports and try to fix incorrect information, you certainly can. However, by looking over each of your credit reports and following the dispute procedures the credit bureaus give you to correct false information you can easily take care of your credit repair yourself. For many people their efforts will tackle the incorrect information and it will be removed. DIY credit repair for most is enough.
If you find accounts listed on your credit reports that are clearly not yours then you may be a victim of identity theft. That’s serious and you should certainly report that to the police and credit bureaus if you are an ID theft victim.
Some people hit a dead end when it comes to getting incorrect information removed from their credit reports. In that case credit repair efforts might involve suing the credit bureaus, filing police reports, notifying creditors of fraudulent accounts, participating in filing charges against individuals who stole your ID, etc.
There is certainly a much more serious and sinister need for aggressive credit repair efforts once you have exhausted your easy to do items.
Don’t get confused that credit repair means removing any account that might have a negative history. Your credit report should contain factual information that is an accurate reflection of your credit performance. If you’ve struggled paying your bills on time in the past, focus on paying them on time moving forward. Thinking that removing all bad items is going to enhance your credit is a myth. Removing old accounts can eliminate the age of accounts you’ve had open if you get back on track. Old negative items will carry less weight as time goes by. Focus more on doing better moving forward and worry less about what misfortune you had in the past.
You don’t have to hire someone to help you with credit repair if you want to tackle it yourself first. Personally, I think looking over your credit reports by yourself first is always a good idea. You should be aware of what is being reported about you and besides, you are the most qualified person to know if the information is accurate.
After that, if you want to hire someone to do the grunt work to get incorrect information fixed, that’s your choice. But really incorrect information may be indications of bigger issues that require more complex assistance like a lawyer or the police.
One trick some credit repair outfits will use is to bombard the credit bureaus with bogus incorrect information requests. These disputes may overwhelm the credit bureaus and while you might have a negative item removed because of that, but the next time the creditor dumps their account performance data it can come right back.
And don’t forget, if you’ve have true but negative information removed from your credit report and then use that “repaired” credit report to apply for new credit, you could be committing credit fraud.