Q and A: Credit Reporting

Cogburn Law
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Madeleine Jones
May 8, 2013

Q:           How often should I check my credit report?

A:   You should check your credit report at least once a year.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year from each of the 3 main credit reporting bureaus (Trans Union, Equifax and Experian).  You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com.

Q:           Why is it important to check my credit report?

A:   In our capitalist consumer credit driven economy, a credit score is a key component to any individual’s financial well being.  A credit score is used to determine the amount of money a consumer will be loaned to purchase a car, home or any other item which may be financed.  A credit score is also used to determine interest rates for loans.  Furthermore, your employer may be able to view your credit score, albeit in limited circumstances for limited purposes.  Needless to say, your credit score directly affects how much credit costs you.

Q:           How long can information remain on my credit report?

A:   Generally, accounts, both good and bad, will remain on your credit report for 7-10 years.  While your score will be affected less and less as the account gets older, the information will still be reported on your credit report.  This does not mean that information can be reported as being late for 7-10 years.  In fact, most accounts should only report as late for a maximum of either 120 or 180 days late, per FDIC guidelines.

Q:           What is a good credit score?

A:   A “good” credit score is generally considered to be anything above 720.  Creditkarma.com reports that the average credit score for the country is 664, with Nevada posting an average score of 638.  Even if your credit score isn’t perfect or even “good”, it is important to know that there are alternative routes to getting financing, especially for purchasing a home.  For instance, to qualify for an FHA loan with a 3.5% down payment you only need a credit score of 580.  A credit score between 530 and 579 requires a 10% down payment.

Q:           What do I do if there is inaccurate information in my credit report?

A:   The FCRA gives you the right to dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information on your credit report.  You should promptly dispute all inaccurate information in your credit report because, as discussed above, your credit score directly affects your financial capabilities and wellbeing.