The only thing you legally need to supply the credit bureaus for a copy of your report is your name, your social security number and a legal mailing address (P.O. Box is a legal address). If you don't want to chance harassment by creditors at this time, it may benefit you to acquire a P.O. Box. Did you know that many of the collection agencies are owned by the credit bureaus?
NEVER give credit bureaus more information than they need!
The bureaus also have a right to request a copy of your social security card, but only give a copy of the front. They also may request a copy of something showing your address if it is different than what is showing on the report. Send them a billing statement that has your address. Do not send them a copy of your drivers license as they request. Remember these bureaus are information-gathering companies who sell your information, not only for credit, but also for promotional reasons.
Before going any further, you should have copies of your current credit reports. If you don't, you can use the sample letter on the following page as a guideline for requesting your credit reports from the 3 major bureaus.
The Credit Bureaus must send you copies of your credit file, free of charge if you were recently denied credit. They will also provide you with one free copy each year. We advise against having anyone you know get your credit file for you because this creates an "Inquiry" on your credit report, and makes it appear as if you are trying to borrow money from somewhere.
If you are in a hurry and cannot wait 5 to 10 days to receive your credit report, simply look in your local Yellow Pages under Credit Bureaus. If the Credit Bureaus have a local office or affiliates in your area, you may go there directly and obtain your credit file without delay.
When you get the reports, there will be an information page telling you how to read your report. And all three agencies use different formats. The first step is to find all the derogatory items.
Look for collection accounts. Equifax lists them at the end of the report, Trans Union mixes them throughout the report. Experian gives a brief paragraph explanation of all accounts. The collections may have a collectors name or account number you do not recognize.
If you don't recognize the account as being one of yours, please don't assume that it is!
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