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Your Credit Report and Your Credit Score

If you want to improve your credit score, you need to go right to the source - your credit report.  Your credit report contains the information and data on which your credit score is based.  If you can alter or update the information in your credit report, your credit score will change to reflect the alterations.  For this reason, getting and checking your credit report is one of the first things you should do when you attempt to repair your credit score.  There are a few tips that can help you deal with your credit report so that you can give your credit score a boost:

Tip #19: Dispute errors on your credit report

Contact each of the three major credit bureaus -  TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian - and get copies of your credit reports and credit scores.  Carefully read over the reports and note any errors.  In writing, contact the credit bureaus and ask that mistakes be removed or investigated. 

This is called a dispute letter and once it is received, credit bureaus have to investigate your dispute within thirty days of receiving your letter.  It is important to keep a copy of your letter and it is important to note the date the letter was sent.  You should not be accusatory or abusive in your letter - calmly and clearly state the problem and request an investigation. 

Note that you are aware the agency is required to investigate the claim within thirty days and note that you will follow up.  Be sure that you do follow up with the issues you raised in your letter - just because the agency investigates does not always mean that your credit report will end up error-free. 

Many credit bureaus now make it possible for you to correct errors on your credit report online - and many have information on their web sites that tells you exactly how disputes must be handled to be effectively removed.  It is important that you follow this information exactly so that the inaccuracies on your credit report are removed promptly and your credit score is updated as soon as possible.

Tip #20: Add a note to your credit report if there is a problem you can’t resolve

Sometimes, there are legitimate reasons why you didn’t pay a bill.  If a contractor refused to finish a job or did a poor job, then you may have refused payment, but the non-payment may still count against you on your credit report.  If there are any unusual circumstances surrounding your credit report that may affect your credit rating - such as a case of identity theft - you can ask that a note be attached to your credit report to explain the problem. 

Some lenders will pay attention to this and some will not, but it is a better solution than nothing at all.  Such a note will not affect your credit score but will affect your credit report. More importantly, it leaves a paper trail of the problem that lenders can look at if they choose.


Tip #21: Make sure you know who is looking at your credit report and why

Many inquiries look bad on your credit report, but more than that you likely want to know who can see your personal financial information, now that you know that your personal information is stored in a credit report.  If you sign a document with a lender or apply for credit online, you can be sure that someone is looking at your credit report. 

However, you may want to look over other documents in order to see who is taking a peek.  Insurance agents will often look at your credit report, for example.  Some landlords and potential employers will, too.  You need to be careful about online sources, too.  In general, when you provide someone with your social insurance number, you may be giving permission to look at your credit report.  You shouldn’t bar people from looking, but knowing who is looking is good financial practice.

 

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