Credit scores are based on information in a credit report, which is a profile of an applicant's borrowing, charging and repayment activities. In addition, credit reports contain identifying information, such as the applicant's name, address, employment, Social Security number and birth date. It also may show whether the applicant has been sued or arrested, or has filed for bankruptcy. Credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus compile your credit report.
Since businesses may obtain this information to evaluate an application for credit, insurance, employment and other purposes allowed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is important that the information in the report be complete and accurate.
Credit bureaus gather the information that appears on credit reports from many sources, and, with so much data flowing back and forth, errors may occur. No matter how errors take place, it is important to correct them quickly. Therefore, it is worthwhile for applicants to review their credit report periodically by ordering a copy from one or more of the major credit bureaus. By doing so, applicants can be certain that the information on the report is current and correct. If they find an error, they should notify the bureau in writing, giving the following information:
The credit bureau then is responsible for investigating and modifying or removing inaccurate data, usually within 30 days. Disputed information that cannot be verified must be deleted from the file. At the applicant's request, the bureau also must reissue corrected reports to lenders who received the report within the past six months or employers who received it in the last two years.
Credit bureaus usually are listed in the phone book under "credit reporting agencies." The three major national credit bureaus are:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Experian (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 949
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 39
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Fed in Print: An index of the economic research conducted by the Fed.