3 Credit Reports FAQ – Don’t Ignore Economic Reality

What Are the 3 Credit Reports?
In the United States, the common phrase “3 credit reports” refers to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These are the three main credit reporting agencies that maintain records on whether adults are paying all of their bills on time.

Am I Entitled to Free Copies of the 3 Credit Reports?
Yes, thanks to an update to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) you can access at least one free copy of your reports each year. Plus you can request complimentary copies of your records with other credit bureaus; some examples are Innovis, Telecheck, Certegy, and ChexSystems.
If you already received your complimentary copies, you still might be able to get more free copies. If you are denied credit, required to make a deposit for utilities, plan to apply for a job, or believe you are a victim of identity theft you can usually get more complimentary copies of at least one of the 3 credit reports.

How Long Does Information Stay on the 3 Credit Reports?
It depends on whether the information is about timely payments or missed payments. Generally, a closed loan or credit card account that was always paid on time will remain on your 3 credit reports for at least 10 years. An open account always paid on time should report indefinitely and help increase your credit score.

If you have late or missed payments, your credit rating usually will suffer some damage from that for 7 years. In the event of Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a tax lien, the reporting time changes to 10 years.

How Can I Quickly Increase My Credit Score?
1. Check your credit report at least once a year. You can visit the government-approved website AnnualCreditReport.com to see what companies are saying about your financial reputation. If something is incorrect or more than 7 years old, you can protest the information.

2. Understand that the credit scoring system rewards you for borrowing as little money as possible. If you do not apply for credit cards whenever you feel the urge, you will have a better credit rating.

3. Pay more than the minimum monthly payments each month. A myth regarding the credit scoring system is that you just need to pay your bills as promised to get a great credit rating. This is provably false. Paying even a little bit above what is required will boost your score. This is a major secret to successfully navigating the credit scoring system.
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