Credit Reporting Agencies
The big 3 as I call them. They hold the purse strings to everyone’s hopes and dreams. With their endorsement you can reach incredible heights. The opposite, if they have negative information on you.
The lenders and credit grantor use these agencies for all their decisions and loan making evaluations. For this single reason you also need to know about them and how they work.
When you have an issue you need to know how to fix the issue and what steps to take to fix things. The only way to know this is to get to know these companies.
Please note that all three work similar to each other. They report on basically the same information that you, the lender and public records report to them.
The issue with these organizations is when these reports are filed they are updated to the national system. Each agency reports at different times during the month.
Sometimes things are not reported as expected and this is when things tend to go bad for clients. This is why I suggest you always get a copy of your credit report from each agency each year.
Getting your credit report
Here comes the fun part. Let’s first state that each agency is mandated to give you a FREE copy of your report each year.
You can request your report by phone, in writing, fax and e-mail in most cases. The safest and recommended method is by mail or fax so you have a copy of the correspondence.
This is my opinion as a mortgage broker. I always like to have a paper trail especially when making a complaint. The paperwork works as your evidence in the future. It also makes sure your story is correct with back up data. Always make your inquiries in writing.
All three organizations are not known for their speed of customer service so patience is a real virtue with these companies. Be ready to wait if calling them for up to 30 minutes in some cases.
You can get your report sooner through e-mail or by phone but there is a cost to do so. Each company will gladly accept your credit card payment to give you a report almost instantly.
You will also find there are many companies that will offer a FREE report but you need to enter in your credit card as they also tend to offer a monthly monitoring service.
The monitoring service is a good thing to have if you have active credit for a business or lots of credit cards. Fraud surrounds us, these monitoring services can be valuable for limiting any fraud activities.
We refer to a few of the better known and trusted ones at our website which is part of this book, www.fixmycreditinfo.com. Please don’t hesitate to visit us and look for more details on credit monitoring services.
Requesting your credit report
The best way to request your report, if you have a week to two weeks available is by fax or mail. I always use fax as it is date and time stamped and quicker than mail.
You need to provide at least two pieces of Identification, normally a driver’s license and a Social Insurance number work best. Since these two items have the critical information on them that all reports have.
Each of the big three can accommodate your request for your report. If you want it fast then you will have to pay for it using a credit card.
If you can wait a week or two than its FREE you simply write them and request it.
Who can access my credit?
A company or individual can obtain your credit report but only with your permission. This is normally always in writing to confirm when you provided consent.
The company or individual must have a legitimate business reason for wanting to review your credit history. Lenders and credit grantors all tend to fit this scenario.
All requests for credit are noted on your personal file and you can review this each year to see who has made an inquiry into your credit. This notation is kept on file for 3 to 4 years.
You should remember that all your credit accounts normally have a condition or term in your contract that allows them to review your credit every year. You may see inquiry’s each year on your reports. This is a normal process so don’t be alarmed.
Who are the big 3 Agencies?
The first one is Equifax this would be the most popular one as well. The second is Transunion and the third Experian. All are available in the United States and Canada. Below is all the contact information for them. (this information can change without notice)
http://www.equifax.com/in the United States
http://www.transunion.ca/ in Canada
http://www.transunion.com/ in the United States
Your search should always start at either of these sites. The information you see will be updated and current.
http://www.experian.ca/ in Canada
http://www.experian.com/ in the United States
Experian is better known for its commercial or business credit services but they do have a consumer division.
I recommend that you visit any of the big 3 sites to gather current information when wanting to make a complaint or inquiry.
If you are requesting a credit report on yourself then there is no better place to get it then from the source.
Each of these agencies can offer you the credit report service and do it for FREE if you have patience.
Equifax has 3 levels of paid for service depending on how much information you want. They also offer a monitoring service to keep you informed of your credit history.
Spend some time getting familiar with these agencies as they have a direct connection to your past and future and you should be aware of this.
I suggest you mark January each year as a time to make the written request. Make a MS Word file and use it as the formal request letter. Update the date and then print and sign and fax away. Consider it a New Year’s Resolution as a reminder.