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A low credit score can cost you more money. There are three national credit-reporting companies that currently operate in the United States: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. By checking your credit report from each company, you can get a good look at what your current financial situation looks like. Fixing your credit and improving your score can be accomplished when you follow the appropriate steps.

Get Copies of Your Credit Reports

For a comprehensive view of your overall creditworthiness, order a copy of your credit report from each of the national reporting agencies and not just one. Each report will likely have different information about you. This is because not all creditors report all consumer account payment information to all three agencies.

If you’ve already received free copies of your credit reports during the past year, you must pay a fee to oder additional copies. This fee varies from state to state.

You are also entitled to a free credit report if:

  • You are unemployed and intend to apply for a job within 60 days.
  • You are receiving public welfare assistance.
  • You believe you are the victim of identity theft or fraud.
  • You have been denied credit, employment, insurance or a place to rent within the past 60 days because of information in your credit report.

To order additional copies of your credit reports after you’ve received your free annual ones, you must contact one of the three credit-reporting agencies individually:

  • Equifax:
  • Experian:
  • TransUnion:

If you order additional copies by mail, put your request in a letter that includes the following information, and your signature:

  • Your full name (including Jr., Sr. III, and so forth.)
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your current address and previous addresses for the past five years
  • Your phone number with area code
  • The name of your current employer

Why your reports matter

The credit report you receive is the same one that your current and future creditors use to make decisions about you. The more negative information on your credit report (past-due accounts, accounts in collection, charged-off accounts, tax liens, etc.) the worse your finances are.

Creditors may use this information to determine whether to raise the interest rates you are paying, lower your credit limits, or even cancel your credit. Whenever your apply for new credit, the creditors review your credit record information to decide whether you will be approved or not, how much credit to give you, interest rates to apply, etc.

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act says tht most negative information remains in your credit reports for 7 1/2 years and that a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy and a Chapter 13 reorganization of debt stay there for ten years. A tax lien stays on there until you pay it.

For more information on how to fix your credit history and dispute errors on your report visit