Credit report bureaus or credit reporting agencies are organizations that keep up your credit files. The agencies get this information directly from lenders. They also have access to public records, which means that they can find out if you have had any judgments against you, or if you have filed bankruptcy.
In the United States, there are three major credit bureaus that keep track of everyone’s credit history. These agencies pass on information obtained from creditors. Their main product is credit report and score. Lenders need the info to decide creditworthiness of a loan applicant and whether to grant credit to the consumer or not.
View Your Credit Reports Online
Your credit history determines your creditworthiness for a loan and the “cost” of the loan. Lenders access your credit reports to approve or to deny your loan request. If the creditors agree to give you a loan, its cost will be calculated based on your credit scores or credit risks.
For that reason, maintaining a good credit score is essential for your financial health. Good credit allows you to have credit cards, to get car and house loans, and other conveniences. If you are dependent on credit you can’t afford to have a bad credit rating as it will affect you negatively throughout your life.
The key to your credit history lies with credit reporting agencies. They handle positive and negative reports from creditors about you. Although they only assemble your credit activities reported by your creditors, credit bureaus can influence whether you will get cheap or expensive source of funds, at least indirectly.
Get Your Credit Reports Online
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) allows consumers to get a free online credit report once every 12 months from annualcreditreport.com. In addition, you can also ask a free report from the three major credit reporting agencies if you fell under these categories: denied credit in the past 60 days, unemployed, on welfare, or inaccuracies of credit information due to fraud.
You can also view your credit report online directly on the sites of the three major credit bureaus. These agencies will let you get access to your credit report for free for 30 days. After the free trial period runs out, you will have to pay the membership fee.
Once you get your credit reports learn about numbers, abbreviations and terms used on the documents. Make sure you know how to read and understand terms such as trade lines, charge-offs, and other report codes.
Dispute Errors with Credit Report Bureaus
To be all over your credit score you need to get your free credit reports from the three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, TransUnion. If you disagree or find errors with the information you find on your credit reports you can correct it. This way can help you build and keep up your credit so you’ll be trusted for a new credit card or car loan with favorable terms.
Unfortunately, dealing with credit rating companies are not really that simple. The agencies have billions of transactions to deal with. When you call about something, they are just going to call your merchant on the phone; and if they claim that the charge is correct, they will drop your complaint right there.
Even if you think that it would be pretty easy to prove your claim you have to wait their respond up to six weeks. And once they verify it and find that you did default on your bill you will need to start the dispute all over again. To avoid the trouble in dealing with the companies, first go to the source of the problem — the service that claims that you didn’t pay a bill.
How Credit Report Bureaus Can Help You
Recent amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) place more requirements on credit bureaus, businesses that supply information about you to the agencies and lenders that use your reports. Under the FCRA, both the credit report bureau and the information supplier have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or incomplete items in your report.
The FCRA also requires that credit reporting agencies document anything on your credit report. If they can’t document it within 30 days, it must be removed. In many cases if the negative item is more than a few years old they will be difficult to verify it and, thus, will remove it.
By understanding the responsibilities of credit report bureaus under the FCRA, you can take steps to improve your credit score. You can engage in effective credit improvement that credit repair services charge high fees for and, soon, you’ll have access to lower interest rate loans.
Identity Theft and Credit Monitoring Services
Credit monitoring are another service of credit report bureaus. It offers you facilities to keep track changes on your credit reports. The agencies aim to answer the growing concern about identity theft with this product. Instead of giving one-time, 30 days access the companies allow you to watch your credit report online for longer period.
There are different services of credit monitoring companies. Most of the agencies let you get access to your credit report online free for the first 30 days. If you are considering monitoring your reports using their services you will need to read reviews about the types of reports that you will get and how much you have to pay for the information.