Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Verifying Your Credit Report

It's hard to believe a year has gone by since I last did this, but it is time once again to request an annual free copy of my credit report. Last year, the first year this service was available, I requested a copy from all three agencies, TransUnion, Experian, Equifax, and all at once, just to get a baseline, if you will. This year, I am staggering my requests. Every four months, I will request a copy from a different agency and thus, I will always be on top of the latest changes. I simply made a recurring entry in my Outlook calendar and noted which agency I should request the report from in which month. As I mentioned in my previous post about this, making sure your credit report is accurate will help ensure you get the best possible rates on mortgages and other loans and credit cards.

This time around, I got my report from TransUnion. Thankfully, there were no major discrepancies. There were, however, a couple of pieces of obsolete data that I wanted removed. The report showed some old student loans and old credit cards. They were all listed as paid off and closed, but they were all closed over 7 years ago, so I wanted to get those removed. Technically, they should not be having any affect on my credit score since they were so old, but I still prefer to have as clean a report as possible. I also noticed my employment history was rather skimpy. It showed my current job title and the only previous job listed was "Pizza delivery boy." That was a summer job I held almost twenty years ago during my freshman year of college (when I applied for my first credit card, which explains how it got on there) and, of course, it has no relation to what I am doing now.

TransUnion allows you to submit corrections (or, as they call the process, "dispute" the report) through their website and, I must say, compared to last year, they have greatly improved their website. Submitting the corrections was painless and consisted mainly of checking various boxes to indicate why something was incorrect. If your reason isn't listed, you need to submit your correction via mail, but I think very few people would need to do this, given the variety of reasons they provide for you to choose from. You do need to submit all your corrections at one time however, so take some time to review your report and find all the errors before you start the correction process. Once you have submitted corrections, TransUnion has 30 days to investigate your claims and provide you with a response.

One thing I do recommend is to make a note of your login and password and save that information in a safe place somewhere. Next year, when you request another copy of your report, the system will recognize that you previously created a login and prompt you for that. It will not let you create a new one. If you do not know your login, you will need to call Customer Support and have your account reset. If you do much of your on-line work at home, after regular working hours, this could delay things for you.

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