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Credit Reports: What They Are, How To Get One, How To Fix It


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Credit is important for many reasons -- including access to funds when you need them most. (If you don't have credit, you can still get it.)  An important factor in determining the amount of credit you can get is the information in your credit report. A credit report is a summation of your credit history. It includes information about your past use of credit, including borrowing, repaying and bankruptcy. The summation of your credit report is your credit rating.

The most important credit reports are created by three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

You are entitled to one free CREDIT report from each bureau every year. It is advisable to protect against identity theft and incorrect information showing up on your report by ordering a FREE report from a different credit bureau every four months. According to a report by the FTC released in 2013, 20,000,000 credit reports have significant mistakes in them.

If you have to pay for a credit report, they do not cost much money.

If your report is incorrect, you are legally entitled to ask the credit bureau to correct it. If after investigating, the credit bureau refuses to change an entry, you have the right to add a statement explaining your view of the error to your report. (It may save time to try to settle the problem with the merchant before filing a dispute with the credit bureau. You are not legally obligated to go to the merchant first.)

You can improve your credit score on your own, without charge and without hiring a company to do it for you. In fact, there is nothing a credit fixing company can do for you othat you cannot do on your own. It helps to start by understanding how a credit score is calculated. (If you prefer to hire a credit repair company, first learn what you need to know by clicking here.  As an alternative, consider hiring a good nonprofit credit counseling service to help. For information, click here.)

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