Seeking Credit Report Expert/Janitor
November 15, 2008 6:46 PM   Subscribe

Where do I get a legitimate credit report and how do I go about cleaning it out?

I am about to look for start-out loan and know that my contacts will be checking into my credit. I took care of what was outstanding and/or had gone to collection about 2 years ago and am now current and meeting my obligations with nothing I owe having gone to collection.

1) How do I get a legitimate credit report without being scammed?

2) Is there a way to clear out the past debts that had gone to collection and been taken care of?
posted by goalyeehah to Work & Money (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Annual Credit Report is the site. As to what to do about bad debts that are on there, they should be marked as paid if they were paid. If they are not marked as paid (not "paid as agreed" which means you paid on time, which you did not, if it went to collection), then you contact the creditor and ask them to fix the designation. As long as you are actually paid up, there should not be any real reason why they would not change it. You can't get rid of them. Time was, they would fall off the report after seven years, but as I understand it, the Current Occupant changed the way that works.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:00 PM on November 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Legit credit reports from the three agencies can be obtained free once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com. It's sponsored by the FTC and the three agencies. Do not go to any other sites advertised on television. Note that 'credit scores' are not included. Unfortunately, the official site will try to see the scores to you. Just keep clicking on the free report option.

The FTC has info about clearing up your credit report.
posted by ALongDecember at 7:01 PM on November 15, 2008


Sorry: Unfortunately, the official site will try to sell the scores to you.
posted by ALongDecember at 7:02 PM on November 15, 2008


I second the recommendation of annualcreditreport.com. If you have any doubt, it's the one pointed to by the FTC.
posted by espertus at 7:02 PM on November 15, 2008


First, any lender will want to look into your history. At the level of a bank loan they will probably go far beyond the actual credit report itself and seek explanations from you for any discrepancies or concerns they have. If you have a decent lender they will even work with you while you clear anything up, so you can discard the idea that you need to have a "clean" report before going in to talk to them. Believe me, they have experience working with people who have credit worse than yours.

Your two years of on-time payments does more for your credit than anything else. The main hitch right now is the overall contraction of credit, which is putting even people with excellent FICO scores under closer scrutiny.

If you don't have success with your lender, Nolo has an excellent book on Credit Repair.
posted by dhartung at 10:20 PM on November 15, 2008


I prefer the for-sale reports on truecredit.com because unlike the free report on annualcreditreport this one has the actual Fico score from all three bureaus right there with all the other information.

also dive into the forums at creditboards.com to get specific advice on how to attack certain baddies on your reports. make sure to ask there how to go about any items on your reports before springing into action. there are in all likelihood other people on there who can tell you how they got them off. do note that the period until deletion of entries from your credit report can be reset by your merely contacting a lender about it. you will learn about such issues here when they occur.
posted by krautland at 5:06 AM on November 16, 2008


If you just want to take a quick look, the report-dot-com sites could work -- they technically are credit-monitoring services that charge a monthly fee to babysit your credit report for you and email you if things happen to it, so you do have to give them your credit card. But they don't charge for a month yet, so if you just want to take a look, you could sign up and then cancel the next day.

Or, write to the three main credit records companies individually -- you are entitled to a free check of each once per year.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:41 AM on November 16, 2008


Or, write to the three main credit records companies individually -- you are entitled to a free check of each once per year.

I strongly suspect this is going to get you a list of your credit file entries but not the Fico score, which you really want. this may have changed, ask the creditboards.com forum. monitoring is a very good idea. truecredit does it for $15/month (you can pull your credit as often as you like, even though it tried to tell you you can only do it once every month. there is a way around that.)

do also note that you can put a freeze on your credit file. write all three bureaus about a fraud alert (google it for details) and they will prevent any changes from happening for 90 days. do it again and you can lock it in for years. I think it's seven years. pretty handy if you know you are going to have negative items showing up soon.
posted by krautland at 8:10 AM on November 16, 2008


Time was, they would fall off the report after seven years, but as I understand it, the Current Occupant changed the way that works.

So far as I know, nothing of the sort has happened. Negative marks must be removed from your credit report within six months of their anniversary.
posted by kindall at 2:04 PM on November 16, 2008


Of their seventh anniversary.
posted by kindall at 2:05 PM on November 16, 2008


I got mine from annualcreditreport. Didn't cost me anything to get all three. I don't believe I got my fico score. Which is fine, i know that right now, it's probably reeeeeeeeeeally low.

Quick sidenote: I use creditkarma to monitor my credit score. it's absolutely free and gives you offers based on your score to build up your credit.
posted by damnjezebel at 5:18 PM on November 16, 2008


It's only about $15 to get your FICO score.

In terms of cleaning up your credit, I got a lot of good advice from Suze Orman's "Young Fabulous and Broke" (although depending on your age a different book may be appropriate).
posted by radioamy at 11:28 AM on November 17, 2008


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