With the advent of FICO, Equifax, and Experian, consumer credit reporting services, people who experience credit problems are not as surprised to find out that they have credit issues. With their large networks and ability to report data, credit reporting agencies can provide their clients with a credit score.
Credit Scores are a measurement that indicates the creditworthiness of an individual or business. Every user’s credit score, when viewed by a credit reporting agency, is a numerical representation of the person or company’s ability to meet their obligations. Credit scores are based on the data reported to a credit reporting agency by the users, such as:
- How much credit do they currently have
- How long they have had credit
- The amount of credit that they have used
Credit repair agencies provide and promote credit repair services, which in essence are also the process of improving a user’s credit score. The credit repair agencies may obtain a report from a credit-reporting agency and then perform a method known as credit scoring. The credit scores of their clients are compared to those who have not yet achieved credit repair. A credit score between 300 and 850 is considered good credit, with 850 being excellent credit. Credit repair agencies do not charge their clients for reporting information.
How to Get a Credit Score for Free?
Several websites exist that provide a free credit score to their clients. One of the websites is OpenLending.com. OpenLending.com provides a free credit score in which they rely on Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to report their clients’ credit history. The Credit Regulator in the UK may be best suited for those in the UK as it is a national and voluntary regulatory organization. The Credit Regulator can obtain a free credit report to analyze a client’s credit situation and help guide them on how to improve it. A few of the credit reporting agencies that are available to the Credit Regulator for free are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If a customer from Equifax is interested in obtaining a free credit score, the client may contact their external team.
Credit Reporting Agencies
Individuals seeking their credit report may also contact a financial institution in which they currently have an account or a credit reporting agency. If a customer is not able to contact a credit reporting agency, they may be able to contact the credit reporting agency directly or contact the financial institution. The credit reporting agency may also contact a financial institution and inquire as to whether they have already provided a credit report to a client. This may not be possible for consumers who are unable to contact a financial institution.
If a customer is not able to locate a credit report for a client, they may be able to obtain a copy from their financial institution. They may also find it easier to obtain a copy from a financial institution if they are seeking a copy of the report for their protection.
Another option is to contact the financial institution that has an account that a customer does not recognize. Like, If a customer is not able to identify the account number, the customer should contact the financial institution and ask for the account to be removed. If the customer is still unable to identify the account, the customer should ask for a statement or account book for the company to identify which account was opened. If the account is an internet-based account, the account book will contain the original account information. So, If the customer still cannot identify the account, the customer should be directed to the company in question for additional information.
Alternatively, the customer may be able to obtain a copy of a customer’s credit report by contacting a credit reporting agency directly. The customer may be able to obtain a copy of the report from their financial institution or the credit reporting agency.
Experian – Credit Reporting Agency
Not all credit reporting agencies are free, but all free credit report options should be contacted before obtaining a copy of a credit report from a free credit report provider. Currently, Experian provides a free credit report to individuals in the US through Experian. CreditReport.com also provides a free credit report.
A credit score for free may not be ideal for a customer that is looking to improve their credit because they may want to go through the process of paying back the amount of debt and earning good credit scores. With a credit score, the customer can do this before obtaining a free credit report. For a consumer that is concerned about debt, getting a score before receiving the free credit report could be helpful.
For a credit score, the customer will be required to provide their personally identifying information including social security number, address, date of birth, and gender. The customer will be asked to provide the last four digits of their social security number. If the customer is over 16 years of age, they will also be required to provide a copy of their income tax return.
Summary of Financial Institutions to Contact for Free Credit Reports
Overall, if a customer is looking for a free credit report, they should contact the following financial institutions.
Banks and credit unions
If a consumer has a bank account or a credit card with a financial institution, it may be possible for the customer to get a free credit report. If not, they should contact the institution directly to ask for a free credit report.
Cheque cashing businesses
If a customer has cash that they want to use, they can contact a cash-management company such as Charles Schwab or eTrade to have a check mailed to them. When the check is received, the financial institution will contact the financial institution in question to retrieve the funds from the check and send them to the customer. For individuals that carry out cash transactions only, they can look for the financial institution that issues the check to see if they have a free credit report.
Credit Reporting Agencies
Federal law prohibits a consumer from obtaining a free credit report from a credit-reporting agency unless they sign up with an authorized retailer and go to a store to obtain the credit report. The authorized retailer can be either a retail store or an agent that sells credit reports and consumer reports.
Federal Reserve Banks
The customer should contact a Federal Reserve Bank if they have a checking or savings account with a Federal Reserve Bank. There are several reasons why the customer should contact the Federal Reserve Bank. One is that the customer can ask the financial institution in which they have an account to obtain a copy of their credit report and send it to the Federal Reserve Bank. The customer may also want to obtain a copy of their credit report through the Federal Reserve Bank.
Other Financial Institutions
While there may be more financial institutions that provide a free credit report, the customer should contact several if they want to get multiple reports. For example, if a customer needs a free credit report for their state, they should contact the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Some financial institutions do not sell any of their products to individuals. Consumers may be surprised that the financial institution in which they are doing business does not offer a credit report.
- So, Consumers should always check the terms and conditions for the free credit report to ensure that the company is reputable and that they will provide the customer with a real credit report.
- Consumers can compare the various free credit report services offered by different financial institutions. The best service is one in which a customer gets a credit report from each institution for a full year. With the reporting services, a customer will only get one credit report every 12 months. If the customer chooses to subscribe to one of the free credit reporting services, the customer can access and download all of the credit reports for the year. This will help the customer to manage their credit report.
- Once the consumer requests their credit report from each institution, they should keep a copy of the report and send the other report back. They can request a credit report from each institution by calling them directly.
What if I get a Negative Item in My Credit Report?
If a consumer receives a Negative Item on their credit report, they should contact the reporting agency and ask them why the item is listed. Consumers should also contact the individual that they believe filed the Negative Item against them. If they cannot resolve the matter, they should contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They can ask for a full refund and may have to pay legal fees. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can also help a consumer resolve the matter.
Not All Negative Items are Fraudulent
Consumers need to understand that not all negative items are fraudulent. Consumers can check on the NINJA List to see which items are typically reported to credit bureaus and to determine if they are fraudulent. NINJA stands for No Information, Negative Item, and Not Available. Most of the negative items that are reported to credit bureaus are considered to be fraudulent. However, there is nothing that consumers can do if a Negative Item is not listed on the NINJA List.
According to the CFPB, the best thing for consumers to do is to check their credit reports and dispute the items that they do not want on their credit reports. Consumers should also check with their financial institution if the Negative Item is listed. They can advise a customer that they will not accept additional credit offers until the Negative Item is resolved. The financial institution may try to persuade a consumer to agree to the Negative Item.
Why Don’t Credit Bureaus Have Negative Items Removed?
One reason why the credit bureaus do not remove Negative Items is that it takes a lot of time. The credit bureaus have to review all the items listed on a credit report. Sometimes, the negative item is legitimate. Other times, the Negative Item is fraudulent. The credit bureaus are in the business of collecting information and their time is limited. CFPB finds that the fraud indicator only has 5% of accurate items for almost all issuers. Based on these statistics, the credit bureaus have a lot of work to do.
What Can I Do to Help Protect My Credit Report?
There are some things that a consumer can do to protect their credit score. However, these actions should be taken with the help of their trusted financial institution. A consumer should contact a credit reporting agency and dispute the item or they should contact their financial institution.
Consumers should ask for all the information related to the Negative Item and dispute the item. If the Negative Item is fraudulent, they should be advised that they may have to pay any legal fees. Most importantly, a consumer should never give out personal information over the phone. They should also never provide personal information on their website.
Credit Reporting Agencies Have a Responsibility
Credit reporting agencies have a responsibility to provide a free copy of a credit report once a year to all consumers. A credit report should also include a statement that their credit report is free and can be obtained for a fee from any of the credit reporting agencies. However, reporting agencies often do not fulfill the responsibility.
Today, a credit report can be purchased for $15 or more. Some consumers have purchased these products without reading the contents of the credit report. Today, credit reporting agencies have a responsibility to provide accurate information. Consumers should report negative items to credit reporting agencies and their financial institutions. Getting a credit score for free is not a valid reason to hide bad items on your credit report.
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