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Clean Up Your Credit Report

Clean Up Your Credit Report

When it comes to cleaning up your credit report it is often unnecessary to pay an organization to do something you can do yourself. While it can be helpful to utilize nonprofit credit counseling services to consolidate payments and negotiate lower interest rates with creditors, that is different than taking steps to remove black marks from a credit report. The first thing to do is to get a copy of your credit report and then come up with a game plan to clean up your credit.

A recently passed federal law requires the three major credit or porting agencies to provide one free annual credit report to each consumer. By going to www.annualcreditreport.com you can request a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the reporting agencies. Smart consumers get a report every three months by staggering number ports over the course of the year. This allows you to keep tabs on and verify the information is correct while keeping an eye on any suspicious activity which could be indicative of identity theft. The three credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion which are the same agencies which will be contacted when you clean up your credit report.

After obtaining a copy of your credit report thoroughly go over all of the information to verify that it is correct. Legally, the credit reporting agencies must remove any incorrect or inaccurate information, even if it is negative, from a credit report. For the most part, all information on a credit report will remain for up to seven years with the exception being bankruptcies which appear on a credit report for a minimum of 10 years. Due to the length of time this information appears on a credit report it is important that it is accurate as it can significantly impact the types of loans you can receive, the interest rate you pay or where you live and work.

When correcting inaccurate information on a credit report, the reporting agencies require corrections to be in writing and submitted to a specific address. Once you file your dispute the credit bureau is required to contact the organization which reported the information and make a determination whether to remove it or leave it in place within 30 days. If a decision is not made within 30 days the credit reporting agency must delete the information from your report. If however the company which reported it the first time finally contacts the credit agency then the information can be re-added even if it is erroneous.

Even if negative accounts appear on your credit report it is still possible for consumers to add a comment explaining the situation and why it may or may not be completely accurate. This provides a mechanism for future creditors or employers to get a better understanding of the situation since not all cases will be black and white. While not as good as having the information completely removed it still allows for your voice to be heard and explain why the black mark shouldn't be on your credit report.

This is one of the many steps that you can take to clean up your credit report which is basically free except for your time and the cost of a stamp. Once you've cleaned up your credit report as much as possible it is important to take additional steps geared towards credit repair such as making payments on time and lowering your credit utilization ratio. Working together, cleaning up the credit report and implementing credit repair strategies go a long way to getting the consumer back on financial track.

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