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Credit Reporting - All 3 Bureaus

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Credit Report Questions, Plus Answers Given With The Best of Our Knowledge:


Q. How is a 3 bureau credit report different from a single-bureau credit report?

A. The 3 Bureau Report includes your credit information as reported from all 3 US credit bureaus - Experian, Equifax, & TransUnion. A single-bureau credit report only contains your credit information on file at one of those 3 bureaus.

Q. Why is my credit report different among the 3 national credit reporting agencies?

A. When creditors report information to the credit agencies, they can choose which bureau(s) they want to report to. Some report to only 1 credit bureau, whereas many creditors report to all 3. When a creditor chooses to only report to 1 or 2 of the bureaus, the remaining bureau(s) will not have access to that account information in your credit report. Similarly, the credit bureaus do not normally share information, and/or one bureau may report information that is inconsistent with the other two bureaus.

Q. Why is it important to check my credit report at all 3?

A. When creditors, landlords, and potential employers check your credit history, they can pull your credit report & credit score from any bureau(s). Some only check 1 bureau; some always check all 3. By checking all 3 yourself, you'll be prepared no matter which bureau(s) they go to.

Q. Where can I find out how to read my 3 Bureau Credit Report?

A. There is a Sample Report Key for our Sample 3 Bureau Credit Report to help you understand what a typical three bureau report may look like.

Q. Will my credit report include a score?

A. Credit reports do not not always include scores, unless the report is ordered with a score. Generally scores must be ordered with your credit report and cannot be ordered after your credit report order has been processed.

Q. How long does it take to get my report?

A. For online delivery you should get your report virtually within seconds as long as you pass the identity verification process.

Q. How long will my credit report be available?

A. It depends on where you ordered the report, but your report is generally available online for at least 30 days after it is delivered. It's a good idea to print a copy for your records when you first view it.

Q. Can you fax or email my credit report?

A. For security purposes, we do not fax or email credit reports.

Q. Can you mail my credit report to my attorney?

A. We cannot send your credit report to an attorney or in care of another person. We can only deliver your credit report to you via our online delivery system.

Q. Why didn't I get my credit report?

A. Although we usually deliver credit reports to our customers within seconds, there are some instances that prohibit us from doing so. These include:

- There is not enough information to compile a 3 Bureau report for you. Sometimes a credit bureau does not return information about a consumer.
- We are experiencing a technical networking issue.
- We are not able to verify your identity.
- There is an alert on your credit report at one of the 3 credit agencies that prohibits us from delivering your report.


More Credit Report Questions:

Q. I co-signed a loan for my nephew.  Will this affect my credit?

A. As a co-signer on your nephew’s loan, you are probably liable for paying back the loan with your nephew.  So the loan and any payment history may also be reported on your credit report.

Q. After paying a debt, how long does it take for a credit report to disappear out of the credit system?

A. Just paying off a debt does not remove it from your credit report, but it should show with a zero balance if it is still reported on your credit report.  There's no real time limit that good credit can stay on your credit report.  Derogatory (bad) credit can only stay on your credit report 7 years.

Q. Do I have to give a credit card # before I can see my credit report?
A. To get your free credit report under law without a credit card, you may need to order by mail or phone.

To order by phone, consumers should call 877-322-8228. Reports ordered over the phone will be processed within 15 days of receipt and mailed to you.

To order by mail, contact:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Reports ordered by mail will be processed within 15 days of receipt and mailed to you. To order by mail it is best to use the official order form.

Q. I applied for my credit report, and your system told me that my card was not accepted.  What’s up with that? Timothy.
A. When a credit card is processed, it goes through an “Address Verification Process” where your address and zip code are compared to the address and zip code reported by your credit card company.  If your address and zip code do not match the credit card company’s records, your credit card is declined.

Of course there are other reasons to decline the card, such as “Over the Credit Limit”, but the AVS is pretty common, so be careful to enter your address carefully.

Why not just use the social security number to keep track of my credit information?

Unfortunately, the SSN is not a valid piece of identification, plus a SSN card is not always necessary to get credit.  As a result it is possible for someone to use someone else’s social in the credit application process.  Sometimes it is intentional.  Sometimes it is just a mistake.  In either case, using only the SSN is not an accurate method for the credit reporting agencies to link your credit information to you.

Why do paid-off accounts still appear on my credit report?

There is no time limit for how long positive credit may stay on your credit report, so old accounts may appear longer than 7 years as long as they are not derogatory (bad credit).

Why do paid off accounts still appear on my credit report showing I still owe money?

Sometimes when an account is paid off, the creditor stops reporting your credit information.  Look at the date reported date on your credit report to see when the balance information was last reported.  If a balance is still reported  as owing after you have paid it off, you may dispute the item not only with the creditor reporting the item, but also with the credit bureau still showing the erroneous credit information.

Who can order a credit report?
A consumer can order his or her own credit report at any time.

Others can order credit reports as permitted under state and federal law.  “Permissible purposes” under law for companies to obtain a credit report on a consumer generally include transactions:

  1. to grant credit
  2. to collect a debt
  3. to underwrite an insurance policy
  4. for employment purposes

It is against the law to obtain a credit report on another person under false pretenses.

What are inquiries?
Inquiries are notations on your credit report that show who has accessed your credit report.  Credit bureaus are required by law to keep track of who orders your credit report, when and for what purpose.

What is an authorized user?
An authorized user is someone who is authorized to use a credit account but who is not liable for payment of the account.  For example, a parent might open up a credit card account and have their son or daughter be an authorized user of the account.  The parent is liable for the payment of the card while the child is not.

The credit history of the account holder is likely to show on the credit report of the authorized user for the particular credit card in question even though the authorized user is not liable for the payments on the credit card.

What is a joint account?
A joint account on a credit report is generally when a two people, for example, a married couple, share a debt obligation.  Both of the joint account holders are liable for the debt, and the credit history normally shows on both of their credit reports.

What is in my credit report?

Generally your credit report includes:
  - your identifying information , such as name, social security number, current and past address, possibly your DOB, possibly other names you have used, and possibly limited current and past employment

 - your credit history such as whether you paid your bills on time, your reported loans, loan terms and balances and terms.

 - your public records that have been picked-up by the credit bureau. 

- a list of inquiries into your credit by other.

 - Your Credit Score is not part of your credit report, that is to say report scores are not items that are stored by the credit bureaus. Rather scores are statistical numbers that are generated at the time a credit report is accessed.

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