- When can I access my credit reports and how? Normally you can request one free credit report through the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com . However, due to COVID-19, the bureaus are offering free reports weekly, so you may be able to monitor your credit easier during the pandemic. You generally should avoid paying for a credit report. Companies like Credit Karma are okay but don’t always provide full information. They are a good starting point, however. Note – we’ve recently had many more problems accessing Experian more than the other agencies.
- Why do we like to review credit reports while preparing bankruptcy schedules? First, credit reports capture most (but not all!) debts someone has. It will not reflect unpaid taxes, certain domestic support obligations (like alimony or support), payday loans, medical bills not yet in collection, etc. But it should capture credit cards, loans, mortgages, and collections. Second, you might learn that a debt you were aware of has been sold to a collection agency. We can give that agency notice before they sue, call, write, or otherwise bother you. Third, there may be a debt you’ve forgotten about, like a car or student loan you co-signed for a child or a debt awarded to an ex in a divorce that is still an obligation of yours.
- How long is the information on my credit report? Most information stays on your report for 7 years, but most bankruptcies stay on your report for 10 years. They will show up, but won’t necessarily prevent you from obtaining future debt.
- What if there is an error in my report? Most credit reports have errors, based on previous studies. Some errors are trivial, like spellings of names or prior addresses. However, debts that were discharged in bankruptcy but are still listed as delinquent, or debts that were incurred by someone else’s fraud or an innocent mistake over someone with the same name could be very harmful to your credit score and could lead to you paying more in interest than someone without these bad marks. You should monitor your reports at least yearly, if not every 4 months, to see what is being reported. While you will not get a score with your free credit report, you can see if there are mistakes that are obvious to you. If there are serious mistakes, contact a lawyer to discuss how to correct these errors and what to do if the creditor and the credit reporting agency refuses to fix the mistake(s).
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If you get a copy of your credit report, please make sure to save it, either in paper form or preferably as a PDF so you can get to it later if you need to dispute something or look at it. If you come see us for a consultation or retain us for a bankruptcy filing, we can always access your reports and provide you with a courtesy copy. Because at WM Law, We are….here to help. Contact us today.