What you need to know about your credit history and how to fix any issues

Is buying a house or car on your New Year’s list this year? You’re going to want to take a look at your credit score first.

Trying to manage your credit score can be overwhelming, but if you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s what you need to know about your credit history and how to fix it if something looks wrong.

Let’s start with why having credit is so important.

If you ever plan to apply for a credit card, buy a car or a house, you need to have credit.

Your credit history is a record of how you have used money in the past, like how many credit cards you have and whether you pay your bills on time.

Don’t know what your credit history looks like? Don’t worry. It’s easy and free to find out.

You can request a free copy of your credit report from all three major bureaus once a year.

Click this link to do this: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action.

Now that you’ve gotten your report, let’s break down what you’re looking for:

If you do see mistakes, here’s what to do:

  • Contact the credit bureau and the company that provided the information.
  • Ask both to correct their records.
  • Include as much detail as possible, plus copies of supporting documents, like payment records or court documents.

When contacting the credit bureau, the process depends on whether you’re an identity theft victim:

  • If the errors are not related to identity theft, tell the credit bureau (by mail or online) what information you think is inaccurate.
  • Online, use the dispute portals for each credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, Transunion) that listed the inaccuracy. The credit bureau must investigate your claim and make any necessary updates to your information within 30 days. The bureau also must contact the company that provided the information. If the company finds the information was inaccurate, they must notify all three credit bureaus to correct your file.
  • If the errors are due to identity theft, you can block identity theft-related debts from appearing on your credit report. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to learn the steps and to get an Identity Theft Report to send to the credit bureaus.

Remember that you can use Identity Theft Reports only for debts that are the result of identity theft. Filing an Identity Theft Report to block debts that you owe is against the law.

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