Make sure your credit report is accurate

By DNA Staff

Window Rock, Ariz., September 5, 2013

(Editor's note: Welcome to DNA Legal Corner, a new weekly column written for the Navajo Times by the attorneys of DNA People's Legal Services. The column is intended to allow the DNA to address common issues faced by the Navajo people they work with. If you have a question or a topic you would like to see addressed in this column, please call DNA at 928-871-5664. The column is not intended as formal legal advice or to replace a one-on-one consultation with an attorney on an individual situation.)
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A s soon as you start taking out loans, you begin to establish a credit history.

If you pay your loans on time, you will develop a good credit history. If you don't pay your loans on time, or have too many loans outstanding, you will develop a bad credit history. If you have either a bad credit history or no credit history at all, it will be difficult for you to get a loan in the future.

The basis for approving or denying a loan is largely based upon what information is on your credit report. In addition to including all of your credit card bills, a credit report includes any court judgments against you, any repossession, or any bankruptcies.

There are three national credit reporting bureaus in this country which are in the business of collecting information about people's credit and their names are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

Under a law passed by the federal government, all three bureaus are now required to give one free credit report per year to anyone who requests it and lives in the Southwest. To get your free credit report, you will need to request a copy of it.

Also, you can get a free credit report if you've been denied credit within the past 60 days. You should get a notice of denial from the creditor which will include the credit bureau's name, address and phone number that provided the report on which they based their denial. You can either write the credit bureau yourself and get a free copy of your credit report or request it via the Internet at if you have Internet access.

You're also entitled to a free credit report if you're unemployed and plan to seek employment within 60 days, if you receive welfare benefits, or if you suspect your credit report is inaccurate due to fraud.

Once you get a copy of your credit report, examine it and make sure that it's correct. You should check for information that is inaccurate, wrong or out-of-date.

With the exception of a bankruptcy, all information which is more than seven years old is considered out-of-date. If you discover any incorrect or out-of-date information on your credit report, you have the right to dispute it under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

You should also examine all inquiries listed on your credit report. Any time someone has requested your credit report, looked at it and then decided not to give you credit, an inquiry is registered. Each inquiry is a negative action which affects your credit rating. For this reason, a credit bureau cannot provide information to just anyone. The person or business requesting your credit report must have a permissible purpose which is reflected under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Often creditors will state a permissible purpose when they request your credit report from the credit bureau, then use it for a different reason.

If this happens to you, you have a claim against that creditor under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and you should consult an attorney. So make sure that you recognize the names of everyone who has requested a copy of your credit report and that they requested those copies at appropriate times.