Deconstructing My 3 Free Credit Reports

For some reason, I felt like I should check all of my credit reports today. I think it was because I knew my new landlord had run our credit, and I also haven’t checked them in a while. Remember, the government mandates that everyone gets 1 free credit report (but not score) every year from each of the 3 credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can get all three at once, or space it out. I requested all three so I could compare them all side-by-side.

Besides, if I want my credit report again I can always go to sites like Credit.com and get one free with a trial subscription. I’ll have to cancel within 30 days or get charged something, but you get the credit report instantly, so why wait 30 days? I usually cancel the same or very next day! Another bonus is that you can also get your credit score for free as well, which is usually $8 everywhere else.

Let me go through each one of them slowly and carefully so I don’t miss anything…

Equifax

Personal Information – All correct except for my current address – Instead of 1234 Main St, it has 1234 Main St Apt# 999, where 999 was my old apartment number.

Installment Accounts – Just my two student loans, correctly noted as fully paid off and closed. (woohoo!)

Revolving Accounts – No late payments or other derogatory marks. Everything seems accurate!

I do have an unfamiliar large credit line, that I believe is when my mom added me as an authorized user. I can’t decide if I should ask my mom to remove me. It is an old account (for me) starting in 2001, so as long as my mom keeps paying on time, I think I’ll keep it open.

Hard Credit Pulls In Last 12 Months – 2
Citibank – Citi Professional Card (Got $100 Gift Card + 0% APR)
Tenant Screening – Rental Application

TransUnion

Personal Information – All correct.

All Accounts – All correct! No late payments or other derogatory marks. Same extra credit line, it is definitely my mom’s.

Hard Credit Pulls In Last 12 Months – 0
None! Hmm… I need to pursue some more bonuses ;)

Experian

Personal Information – Amazingly, they also have like 5 variations of my current address, including the wrong version that Equifax has. They even have the old address without the apartment number. They have the correct one on top, though, so I guess I’ll leave it alone.

They also have Jonathon as my alias. Shrug.

All Accounts – All correct. No late payments or other derogatory marks.

Hard Credit Pulls In Last 12 Months – 3

Overall Notes
My credit reports are loooong. Let’s just say I’ve got a lot of accounts. Over 15 currently open and over 15 opened and closed. Yowza!

I’m happy there are no egregious errors, like a late payment or something. No signs of idenity theft, as every credit check has been for a purpose (and at least $100 of value!!) besides the unavoidable tenant screening check.

Whenever you ask for overdraft protection at a bank, that means a hard credit check and a credit line being opened for you. I have two of these from years ago, which were a mistake. I decline these now. Still, if you have them, keep them open.

Next
Looking at old inquiries to see exactly which banks and brokerages pull credit reports and which don’t. For example, it is confirmed from these reports that Sharebuilder and HSBC Bank don’t do hard credit pulls for new applications. Also, I need to initiate a dispute to correct the address error I found.

I should also do the same for my wife, at least her reports will be much shorter to read through!

Comments

  1. I space out my 3 reports and my wife’s 3 reports (6 reports) such that I can get a report every 2 months…all of our accounts are joint accounts so it hardly matters whether the reports is mine or hers.

  2. please share how your dispute to correct error[s] experience goes…thanks.

  3. I don’t understand how the credit reports can mess addresses up so badly. I’ve had my fair share of these too.

    The worst part is that whenever I get new checks from a bank, they apparently like to just throw away the application I actually filled out for the checks and just use an address from a credit report. In my case, they seem to favor a dorm room address I had for one semester at college. Several years ago when I swtiched banks, it took First Union four tries to get the checks right! (Delayed my use of the new checking account for about two months!)

  4. I tried to dispute online just now, but there was no option to fix my current address, only former addresses and a check box for each and every account. After some looking around I found this:

    Examples of items which cannot be addressed via an online request for investigation include:

    * Names
    * Current Address
    * Social Security Number

    I’ll have to call them.

  5. The addresses are incorrect because Experian is notorious for reporting every known address you’ve ever lived and every address each one of your creditors report. I had 10 address and 5 name variations. Now I’m down to 4 and 2. I gave up because they were getting on my nerves.

    When filling out an application, if someone fat fingers your address into their system, that is how it’s sent to the bureaus when the account is reported for that month. Equifax and TransUnion are pretty good with correcting them if you call, but Experian may give you a little trouble if there is an account attached to it.

    Even if they do remove/correct it, if a current account is attached to it, then the bad address will show up again when that creditor reports next month. So I would recommend asking Experian where the address came from, then call that creditor to correct it with them too.

  6. Do you think it’s worth correcting this error: One of the bureaus (either Experian or Equifax, I forget which “E”) has a “creditor statement” on one of my cards that says “account closed by credit grantor” when in fact, it was closed at my request. The other two bureaus have this listed correctly. Is it worth going through the hassle of correcting? Perhaps I could let it carry through until I have to petition something more substantial and just lump it in at that time. I hate dealing with customer service reps — I have to mentally prepare for the encounter and it just drags on my day.

  7. Good idea to check your credit. A co-worker of mine just checked hers and she had two credit card accounts and one car loan on it that actually belonged to her mother. The weird thing is, she doesn’t have the same first or middle name and she hasn’t used her parents address for 6 years, so she doesn’t know how they got mixed up. Luckily for her, it didn’t hurt her at all (credit score 786!) but she still has to fix it.

  8. I wonder how often is a good time to check for credit reports/score in a year? Does anyone else provide free reports/score other than Annualcreditreport.com

  9. Amy:

    I would strongly recommend that you correct the error regarding who closed that account. “Closed by credit grantor” could be interpreted as a negative. Years ago, one of my credit accounts went to a collections agency years and was closed by the credit card company. It now shows up as only “Closed by credit grantor” (and no reference to collections). I don’t think you want that on your report if it’s wrong.

    If the bureau in question gives you trouble, you might have to obtain a letter from the credit grantor which states that you, rather than they, requested the account be closed.

  10. SanDance says:

    I went to credit.com earlier this week and signed up for the free trial of their credit monitoring service. I was assured that I would not be charged until after the 30 days were up. Today, I saw on yodlee.com that the card I gave them was charged $9.95. I just called the CSR # 1-800-493-2392, verified my info, and was told they would refund the charge, after two minutes of listening to some garrish music on hold.
    BTW – No errors on my credit report, and my credit score was right in the middle of the range that myFico Estimator gave me

  11. Just to confirm that today I see the credit was posted to my credit card on April 9, only a few days after I called.

  12. I checked my credit report in 2004 with Equifax and found half a dozen errors. I disputed the report, but they only ended up fixing half the mistakes and I couldn’t be bothered getting the rest sorted out. (There were duplicates on my record and some accounts I had closed showed as being open but with zero balance.) I didn’t realize at the time that Canada also allows TransUnion to collect credit information.

    I ordered reports from Equifax and TransUnion a couple of days ago. There were two mistakes on the Equifax report and EIGHT errors on the TransUnion account. In both cases, it was listing zero-balance accounts I had long since closed as being open. I had closed these accounts so long ago (anywhere from 1987 to 1996) that I didn’t even have the account numbers anymore! Hopefully, that won’t be a problem when it comes to the dispute.

    Both agencies also had some small errors in my address and the work history was ridiculously outdated. I paid money to get my FICO scores out of curiosity and, interestingly, TransUnion’s was 20 points higher.

    I’m in the process of sorting all this out, but I have to say I’m quite aggravated. There should only be one credit monitoring agency in the country, since having more leads to confusion and errors. TransUnion and Equifax work in complete isolation from one another, so it falls on the consumer to continually make sure they don’t mess up. Furthermore, higher standards have to be enforced. Trained monkeys would do a better job of inputting the data, based on the outrageous mistakes I’ve come across in my own file.

    Worse, both agencies ask for your Social Insurance Number (the equivalent of an American SSN) when processing your request, without making it crystal clear that information is optional. I’m also trying to get Equifax to erase it from my file, because it’s just a matter of time before one of these places gets hacked and identity theft is a huge issue these days.

    In short, I agree that it’s vital to take advantage of the free annual report you’re entitled to. I certainly intend to get one from both Equifax and TransUnion every year from now on.

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  2. [...] You checking your own credit history and/or score. [...]

  3. [...] promoting AnnualCreditReport.com, the official government-mandated source of free credit reports. I checked all mine last March. But what happens when it hasn’t been 12 months yet but you need to check again? Do you try [...]

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