Each reporting agency calculates your credit score using its own data; therefore, you can have three different credit scores, one from each of the three agencies. Your credit report includes information your lenders have reported about you, such as your credit limits and payment history.
By reviewing your credit reports, you can take steps to improve your scores by appealing to the companies to remove inaccurate negative information.
Go online to AnnualCreditReport.com and request your free credit report. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only website sponsored by all three bureaus. You do not need to purchase services or pay a fee to obtain your annual free credit report, but you generally do have to pay to see your credit score. The site provides information for ordering reports online, by mail or by phone. The website also includes information on whom to contact at each of the three credit reporting agencies to dispute a claim on a report.
Before ordering a credit report from a website, check the website address, to verify you are on AnnualCreditReport.com. The Federal Trade Commission reports it has received numerous complaints from consumers complaining about websites offering free credit reports but requiring the consumer to pay for a product or service. If you need an additional report from a single agency within a 12-month period, you will have to pay for the second one.
By taking advantage of your right to receive the free credit report, you can take steps to improve your credit reports. Higher credit scores make it easier to borrower money. In general, consumers with low debt and high credit, as well as strong payment histories, will have the highest credit scores, though each bureau uses a different model to compute credit scores. Scores influence what you pay in insurance premiums, and employers and potential property managers often look at credit scores when making decisions about a promotion or rental application.
If you find false information on a credit report, you can request the item be removed from your report by petitioning the credit bureau. Doing so does not affect the other credit bureaus, so if there is similarly incorrect information on another bureau’s report, you must write that company to remove it as well.