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How to Learn About Credit

How to learn About Credit - The importance of how much credit you have and how you use it goes far beyond shopping. Whether you have good or poor credit can affect where you live and even where you work, because your credit record may be considered by prospective employers. That is why you need to understand how credit is awarded or denied and what you can do if you are treated unfairly.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act - The Fair Credit Reporting Act promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in consumer credit reports. It also controls the use of credit reports and requires consumer reporting agencies to maintain correct and complete files. According to this act, you have a right to review your credit report and to have incorrect information corrected.

Issuing Credit Reports - Credit bureaus, the most common type of consumer reporting agency (CRA) that compiles and issues credit reports, are required to help you understand your report. Reports can be issued only to those with a legitimate business reason. These include creditors, employers, insurers, and government agencies reviewing your status for licensing or benefit purposes, or any third party for whom you request a report.

About Credit Report Errors - If you find an error on your report, you should notify the credit bureau in writing immediately. The bureau is responsible for investigating and for changing or removing any incorrect data. The source of the error must then notify all consumer reporting agencies where they sent information. If you are not satisfied with the correction, you have the right to add a brief statement (100 words or less) about the issue to your credit report. The statement should be a clarification, not an explanation, of credit problems.

About Denied Credit - If your credit application is turned down because of an error on your report, the lender is required to provide you with the name and address of the credit bureau that issued the report. Then, you have 30 days to request a free copy from the bureau. The bureaus must disclose to you all information in the report, its source, and who has recently received the report.

You have the right to have the credit bureau re-issue corrected reports to lenders who received reports within the last six months, or to employers who received one in the past two years.

Full Disclosure - Consumer reporting agencies must provide you access to the information in your credit report, as well as identify those who have requested the information recently. There is usually a charge for each report, unless you have been denied credit recently. You are entitled to one free report a year if you certify in writing that: (1) you are unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days, (2) you are on welfare, or (3) your report is inaccurate due to fraud.

Limiting Access - You may request that consumer reporting agencies do not distribute your name on lists used by creditors and insurers to make unsolicited offers of credit and insurance. Requests can be made by telephone or in writing by filling out a form available from each credit reporting agency. For telephone requests, call (888) 5 OPT OUT to be excluded from Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. Telephone requests last for two years; written requests are permanent. Consumers have the right to sue consumer reporting agencies, users, and providers in state and federal court for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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