Understanding Your Credit Report

I just received my credit report and need to review it.  Where do I start? 
A credit report might look alien to you upon first glance, but don’t worry!  It’s easy to get started.  First, grab a highlighter pen so any inaccurate information you find can be marked.  Start by reviewing the entries in your personal information section.  Check your name, date of birth, present and past addresses, current and past employers and Social Security number.  Within your credit report, look for the following discrepancies:

DISCREPANCIES REGARDING ACCOUNTS AND INQUIRIES
- unauthorized users
- customers listed as deceased
- former spouse’s name
- inaccurate accounts from your divorce
- inaccurate negative cosigned accounts
- unauthorized inquiries
- illegally re-aged collection accounts reporting an incorrect last date of activity
- foreclosure attempts
- consumer credit counseling loan indications

DISCREPANCIES REGARDING BALANCES AND ACCOUNTS
- incorrect balances
- credit limits listed incorrectly
- duplicate collections
- accounts listed incorrectly
- credit lines not listed
- paid accounts still showing that you owe
- closed accounts shown as open
- closed accounts should say ‘closed by consumer’ and not ‘closed by creditor’.

DISCREPANCIES REGARDING INACCURATE TRADE LINES
- late payments of 30, 60, 90 and 120 days
- collections
- charge-offs
- tax liens
- judgements
- debt consolidation marks
- bankruptcies not saying withdrawn or dismissed
- repossession indication when it should say ‘voluntarily surrendered’

If you discover inaccurate information in any of these sections, the next step is composing and sending dispute letters to whichever credit bureau’s report contains the discrepancy.  Check out the sample dispute letter form at the bottom of this page – that's a good place to get started! 



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