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NEED TO KNOW - MORTGAGE INFORMATION
This page has five sections:
Section 1: Explains how consumer reporting agencies work and your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Section 2: Explains how you can legally improve your credit report.
Section 3: Offers tips on dealing with debt.
Section 4: Cautions you about credit-related scams and how to avoid them.
Section 5: Lists resources for additional information.
Consumer Reporting Agencies
If you've ever applied for a credit card, a personal loan, or insurance, there's a file about you. This file contains information on where you work and live, how you pay your bills, and whether you've been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy.
Companies that gather and sell this information are called Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs). The most common type of CRA is the credit bureau. The information CRAs sell about you to creditors, employers, insurers, and other businesses is called a consumer report.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
In addition, anyone who takes action against you in response to a report supplied by a CRA-such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment-must give you the name, address, and telephone number of the CRA that provided the report.
Q. Do I have a right to know what's in my report?
Q. Is there a charge for my report?
Even if you have not been denied credit, you may want to find out what information is in your credit report. Some financial advisors suggest that you review your credit report periodically for inaccuracies or omissions. This could be especially important if you're considering a major purchase, such as buying a home or a car. Checking in advance on the accuracy of the information in your credit report could speed the credit-granting process.
Q. What type of information do credit bureaus collect and sell?
Identification and employment information
Public record information
Improving Your Credit Report
Under the law, both the CRA and the organization that provided the information to the CRA,
such as a bank or credit card company, have responsibilities for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To protect all your rights under the law, contact both the CRA and the information provider if you have a dispute.
First, tell the CRA in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report you dispute, state the facts and explain why you dispute the information, and request deletion or correction. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Your letter may look something like the one below. Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document what the CRA received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures.
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute also are encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.
This item (identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.) is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.
Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.
Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)
CRAs must reinvestigate the item(s) in question-usually within 30 days-unless
they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all relevant
data you provide about the dispute to the information provider. After
the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the CRA, it
must investigate, review all relevant information provided by the CRA,
and report the results to the CRA. If the information provider finds the
disputed information to be inaccurate, it must notify all nationwide CRAs
so that they can correct this information in your file.
Bankruptcy information may be reported for 10 years.
With regard to any delinquent account placed for collection-internally or by referral to a third-party debt collector, whichever is earlier-charged to profit and loss, or subjected to any similar action, the seven-year period is calculated from the date of the delinquency that occurred immediately before the collection activity, charge to profit and loss, or similar action. For example, assume that your payments on a loan were late in January, but that you caught up in February. You were late again in May, but caught up in July. You were again late in September, but did not catch up before the account was turned over to a collection agency in December. You made no more payments on the account, and it is charged to profit and loss in July of the following year.
Under the FCRA, the January and May late payments each can be reported for seven years. The collection activity and the charge to profit and loss can be reported for seven years from the date of the September payment, which was the delinquency that occurred immediately before those activities.
Adding Accounts to Your File
If you've been told that you were denied credit because of an "insufficient credit file" or "no credit file" and you have accounts with creditors that don't appear in your credit file, ask the CRA to add this information to future reports. Although they are not required to do so, many CRAs will add verifiable accounts for a fee. However, understand that if these creditors do not report to the CRA on a regular basis, the added items will not be updated in your file.
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