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Review Your Credit Report

When the time comes for an important transaction for an individual, such as buying insurance, taking out a mortgage, or applying for a job, having good credit can be critical. Second only to having good credit is being able to prove it in writing, in a consumer report compiled by one of the credit reporting agencies (CRAs) that have credit information on millions of Americans. If you have ever applied for a credit card, insurance, or a personal loan, one or more of the three major CRAs has a file on you.

By law, a consumer has the right to request a copy of a report from a CRA, and that right should be exercised annually to check on the accuracy of the report's contents. Such oversight has added significance if a major purchase is being considered. Rectifying any errors ahead of time can shorten the waiting period for loan approval.

A CRA must divulge everything that is in a consumer report including, in most instances, the source of the information. The consumer also has the right to know who has requested the report during the preceding year, or two years if the request is related to employment. Aside from reports prompted only by the consumer's initiative, a report can be requested when a consumer is notified that a company has turned down the consumer's application for credit. That notice, including the CRA's name, address, and phone number, is required by law.

If you detect errors in your report, the process of setting the record straight involves contacting both the CRA and the provider of the information in dispute. A consumer's rights concerning errors in a consumer report are as follows:

* If disputed information cannot be verified, the CRA must delete it;

* If there is inaccurate information, the CRA must correct it;

* If there is incomplete information, such as a record that shows that a consumer made late payments but does not show that the consumer is current, the CRA must complete it;

* The CRA, having changed or removed information after a reinvestigation, may not put it back in the file unless the information provider verifies the information and the CRA gives advance notice to the consumer;

* The CRA must delete any account not belonging to the consumer;

* If requested by the consumer, the CRA must send notices of a corrected report to anyone who received it in the preceding six months, or two years if received for employment purposes.

If the credit story told by a consumer report is sad but true, the best ally for a consumer who has changed his ways is the passage of time. As a general rule, accurate negative information in a report can stay there for only seven years. There are some exceptions, for which the "shelf life" of negative information is extended. For example, bankruptcy information may be reported for ten years, and there is no time limit for information on criminal convictions. Similarly, there is no time limit for credit information stemming from an application for a job paying more than $75,000, or an application for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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