The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has said the following about credit card borrowing:
Before you submit a credit application, get a copy of your credit report to make sure it’s accurate. Contact the credit bureaus because more than one credit bureau may have a file on you, call each until you locate all the agencies maintaining your file. The three major national credit bureaus are: EQUIFAX: (800) 685-1111, www.equifax.com; EXPERIAN: (888) EXPERIAN, www.experian.com; and TRANS UNION: (800) 888-4213; www.tuc.com.
Anyone who takes action against you in response to a report supplied by a credit reporting agency — such as denying your application for credit — must give you the name, address and telephone number of the credit bureau that provided the report. A positive credit history is an asset, not only when you apply for a credit card, but also when you apply for a job or insurance, or when you want to finance a car or a home.
If you’re turned down for a card, ask why. It may be that you haven’t been at your current address or job long enough. Or that your income doesn’t meet the issuer’s criteria. Different credit card companies have different standards. If you’ve been denied credit because of information supplied by a credit bureau, federal law requires the creditor to give you the name, address and telephone number of the bureau that supplied the information. If you contact that bureau within 60 days of receiving the denial, you are entitled to a free copy of your report. If your file contains accurate negative information, only time and good credit habits will restore your credit-worthiness. If you find an error in your report, you are entitled to have it investigated by the credit bureau and corrected at no charge. You should dispute any inaccuracy in your report with the credit bureau and also with the company that furnished the information to the credit bureau.
What we have found over years of coaching, is that once a credit report has
errors, they can be very hard to fix. Although the FTC states in their advice above that once an error has been found in a report that you are entitled to have it investigated by the credit bureau, be aware that these bureaus simply don’t want to do this investigative work. They lose money when they have to take time and resources to be sure something is corrected on a report. The way they make money is to sell your information to lenders, potential employers, utilities, etc. It is not in their best interest to make sure your report is accurate. They could care less if it’s accurate or not. You have to be the one who cares and unfortunately, you will be the one who has to push to make sure erroneous information gets changed.
For more information on how to really take each of the three credit reporting agencies to task, and do it with confidence,
read the Credit Score Tune-up Handbook, by Jayson Orvis.