NDSU Extension Service - Mercer County

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Have You Checked Your Credit Report Lately?

credit report, reporting a credit report error

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

Did you know you can get a copy of your credit report every year from each of the credit reporting agencies?

Checking your credit report periodically can prevent future problems because the information in your credit report is used to calculate your credit score.

To receive copies of your report, go to www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth to verify your identity.

Three nationwide credit reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - maintain and sell credit reports. Each company may have different information, but the information most likely will be very similar.

By staggering the times you pull your credit reports, you can get one every four months. Set specific days of the year on which you will check your credit report (for example: Jan. 1, May 1 and Sept. 1). Remember that you will not be receiving your credit score when you get your report.

What is in a Credit Report?

The first part of your credit report includes identifying information. This includes your name, current address and other information that can be used to identify you. The public record section will contain any public record data of a financial nature, including bankruptcies, judgments and state or federal tax liens. Another section includes any collection agency account information and the status of those accounts.

The report also contains credit account information. This includes accounts you have opened and closed. A lot of information is included for each of the credit accounts you have, such as the company name, account number, date opened, last activity, credit limit and any late payments.

The final section of your credit report includes inquiries made. Companies will look at your credit report when you apply for credit or when they review your account.

Inquiries are hard or soft. A creditor pulling your credit when you apply for credit is considered a hard inquiry. Soft inquiries are from marketing offers and reviews of your credit history by one of your existing creditors. Only hard inquiries are listed as an “inquiry” when your report is provided to others.

What if the Report Contains an Error?

If you find something incorrect on your credit report, you should dispute it. You may contact the credit reporting company or the company that provided the incorrect information. The company will have 30 days to investigate your claim and another 15 days if you submit additional information after the original dispute.

If you have questions about the recent Equifax data breach or about how to freeze your credit, feel free to call the local Extension office at 873-5195.

Visit the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s Personal and Family Finance website (www.ag.ndsu.edu/money/) for more information on managing your finances.

Source: Carrie Johnson, NDSU Extension Service personal and family finance specialist

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