Credit Bureau Reporting Guidelines

The Fair Credit Reporting Act within the United States regulates the consumer reporting agencies and how they conduct business. Some of the provisions of this act state that the credit report companies must take steps to ensure the accuracy of reports sent to them if the consumer disputes any of it, provide one credit report free of charge at the consumer’s request, and maintain negative reports no longer than 7 years after the date they were reported.

That said, the credit bureaus do not deal with any company that furnishes consumer information directly to resolve consumer disputes. Instead they must use a system controlled and monitored by a third party, which is usually what causes the infamous delays. Because of the regulations provided for both consumers and creditors, it can take months to clear up errors or old items from your report, this is especially true if you are attempting to clear the item from more than one bureau, or remove more than one item.

In some states, you will most likely not be dealing directly with the major credit bureaus. Instead, the agency has another company which handles consumer relations. For example, disputes to your Equifax report in Texas will not be handled directly with them. They will actually be handled through an agency called CSC Credit Services, adding another party to the mix and causing more delay.

All of these frustrations are never fun to go through, and are a very good reason to get your credit report more than once a year. This way, you can catch errors quickly, and perhaps get them cleared up quickly. The older an error, the more time it will take to clear up. You do not want to wait until you’ve found your dream home to find your report is riddled with errors and old information. The time it will take to get your report cleared may cost you the home.

As stated above, each credit bureau is required to send one report per year at the consumer’s request, but any additional reports will cost you about $9 per company. Receiving your report usually takes 6-8 weeks, and cross your fingers it doesn’t get lost in the mail! Unless, of course, you are enrolled in a monthly credit monitoring service. These services allow online access to your credit report from all agencies, and some of them even provide your FICO score.

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