A consumer credit report is a factual record of an individual’s credit payment history. It is provided for a purpose permitted by law: to help a credit grantor or lender quickly and objectively decide whether to grant you credit. Most of the information in consumer credit reports comes directly from the companies a person does business with, but some information also comes from public records.
Credit reporting can be helpful in extreme cases, but it is often misrepresented by collection agencies trying to sell their services. When a collection agency reports a delinquent account to a credit bureau, it does not get the business any money today. What is does is provides a ‘wish’ for a payment some unknown time in the future if the debtor ever has to do a financial transaction that involves a creditor that checks their consumer credit report.
The issue is that credit reporting also can create a liability for businesses because of collection agencies reporting accounts that were not valid debts. This can open the business to legal action – something no businesses needs. It has been esitmated that over 41% of the information contained in consumer credit reports is not accurate, and with identity theft on the rise, a business must tread lightly when considering credit reporting.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act regulates the activities of credit reporting agencies. A credit reporting agency under this law means any person or business which assembles or evaluates consumer credit information for the purpose of providing consumer credit reports to third parties.
According to consumer credit report laws, here are some items that cannot be mentioned in consumer credit reports:
A discharge or final order in Bankruptcy Court dated more than 10 years prior to the date of the consumer credit report. Lawsuits and judgments entered more than 7 years prior to the date of the consumer credit report.
Paid tax liens which, from the date of payment, precede the report by more than 7 years.
Accounts placed for collection or charged to profit and loss by the creditor that are dated more than 7 years before the credit report.
Records of arrest, indictment, or conviction of crime that, from date of disposition, release, or parole, precede the report by more than 7 years. Any other adverse information that precedes the report by more than 7 years.
Default information concerning U.S. Government insured or guaranteed student loans can be reported for 7 years after actions to collect the debt have been taken against certain guarantors.
There are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, Trans Union. Federal law specifies how long negative information can remains on a person’s credit report. This includes late payments, accounts that the credit grantor turned over to a collection agency and judgments filed against a person in court – even if later the account was paid.
Contacting The Credit Bureaus
Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
To order report: 1-800-685-1111
To report fraud: 1-800-525-6285
Web site: www.equifax.com
Experian (formerly TRW)
National Consumer Assistance Center
PO Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
To order report: 1-888-397-3742
To report fraud: 1-888-397-3742
Web site: www.experian.com
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
To order report: 1-800-888-4213
To report fraud: 1-800-916-8800