To determine risk in providing credit based on a person’s debt-to-income ratio, repayment history, collateral, and negative indicators such as evictions, default judgments, foreclosures, repossessions or bankruptcy. These factors are calculated and given a numerical score by credit reporting companies.
Who uses credit scores?
While anyone with an interest in your fiscal responsibility may ask permission to run a credit check, they are typically required by:
- Lending Institutions, including mortgage companies and credit card providers
- Insurance companies
What information is provided?
Credit background checks don’t disclose your personal credit score. They do, however, disclose
· Unsecured commercial debt
· Payment history
· Tax liens
· Civil judgments
· Charge-off sent to collections
· Recent credit inquiries
Who oversees these reports?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) oversees the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Because of the consumer protection rights granted under the FCRA:
- Your written permission is required for a valid credit check
- You must be informed if the results of the credit report may have negative consequences, such as loss of employment opportunities
How can I access these reports?
You have several options to obtain your personal credit report.
- Each of the 3 nationwide credit reporting companies is required to provide one free annual copy of your credit report upon request. To secure a copy, you can order one online, or call 1-877-322-8228.
- You can order a copy of your report directly from a credit reporting company at any time (Some fees may apply)
- You can research and choose to do business with an online, third-party credit tracking website
- Whenever you experience a negative impact based on the results of your credit check, the issuing company is required to send a written notice that includes a copy of the report used to make the decision, plus a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”
How do I dispute an error?
You have a couple of options if you need to dispute information in your credit report.
- Take the dispute to the credit reporting company
- Take the dispute directly to the company reporting the debt
In either case, your goal is to convince the company that they have made a mistake. So you want your correspondence to be
- Include exact dates, amounts and any identifying codes or numbers to pinpoint the disputed transaction
- Forward copies of all relevant information to back up your dispute (keep originals whenever possible)
- By law, your dispute must be addressed within 30 days of receipt. If you send hard copies, use certified mail options and ask for a return receipt. You can also turn on the return receipt option for emails, in order to prove that your document was opened.
No matter which option you choose, the company reporting the debt is the one who has to investigate your claim. Then either they or the credit reporting agency you contacted will send you a written response to your concern.
If the company finds in your favor requiring a change in your credit report, you must be given a free copy showing your updated information. The credit reporting company must also share this amended record with all three nationwide credit reporting companies so they can update your file.
In the event that the credit reporting agency does not find in your favor, you still have the right to include a statement of the dispute in both your file and all future reports. For a fee, you can also ask the credit reporting company to forward a copy of the disputed statement to anyone who has recently requested your credit report.