Checklist: Things to Look for in Your Credit Report
Use this handy checklist as you review your credit report for inaccuracies, old information, and other things that shouldn't be there.
At least once per year, you should get your credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies and check each report for errors or for outdated or incomplete information. Here’s a handy checklist to guide your review.
(To learn more about credit reports, see Credit Reports & Credit Scores.)
How to Get & Review Your Credit Report
Every 12 months you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can also get a yearly free copy of any specialty consumer reports. In some instances, you can get free reports more often than once per year. (Learn more about getting your credit report.)
Review each section of your report carefully. Circle each item you find that is erroneous, incomplete, or contains information that should not be reported. Then, make a list of everything that is inaccurate, incomplete, or not authorized to be in your file.
Checklist -- Things to Look for in Your Credit Report
When reviewing your report, look for the following:
Personal Information Section
- incorrect or incomplete name, address, or phone number
- lack of prior address if you have not lived long at your current address
- incorrect Social Security number or birth date
- incorrect, missing, or outdated employment information
- incorrect marital status—such as a former spouse listed as your current spouse
Public Records Section
- lawsuits you were not involved in
- a bankruptcy filed by a spouse or ex-spouse, even though you did not file bankruptcy
- bankruptcies that you filed more than ten years ago or that are not identified by the specific chapter of the bankruptcy code
- lawsuits or judgments reported more than seven years after judgment was entered, or after the expiration of the statute of limitations
- tax liens you paid more than seven years ago, or criminal arrest records more than seven years old
- paid tax, judgment, mechanic’s, or other liens listed as unpaid
Credit Accounts Section
- commingled accounts—credit histories for someone with a similar or the same name
- account listed as joint, when only your spouse is responsible for the account or vice versa (see When Do I Owe My Spouse’s Debts, for more information)
- premarital debts of your current spouse attributed to you
- an account due to an identity thief’s actions
- accounts on which you are an authorized user are not included in the report (this may happen with accounts in one spouse’s name that the other spouse is authorized to use)
- incorrect account histories—such as a late payment notation when you’ve paid on time
- failure to list a zero balance for a debt that was discharged in bankruptcy or showing a discharged debt as still owing
- failure to show that a delinquent debt has been discharged in bankruptcy
- a voluntary surrender of your vehicle incorrectly listed as a repossession
- a missing notation when you disputed a charge on a credit card bill
- accounts that incorrectly list you as a cosigner
- closed accounts incorrectly listed as open (it may look as if you have too much open credit)
- accounts you closed that don’t indicate “closed by consumer” (otherwise it looks like your creditors closed the accounts)
- an account delinquency that occurred more than seven years ago or that does not include the date of the delinquency
- incorrect date of delinquency on an account that was charged off or sent to collection or the date of delinquency is listed correctly in one account or tradeline, but incorrectly in a second tradeline after it was turned over to a collection agency (the transfer of a debt should not result in a new, later delinquency date)
- a creditor’s tradeline does not show that the account was turned over to a collection agency, so the collection agency account line looks like another overdue account
- overdue child support that is more than seven years old
- other adverse information that is more than seven years old, and
- credit inquiries by automobile dealers from times you simply test drove a car or from other businesses when you were only comparison shopping (creditors cannot lawfully pull your credit report without your written permission until you indicate a desire to get credit).
Learn more about what can and cannot be reported on your credit report in Credit Report Basics.
This is an excerpt from Credit Repair, by Margaret Reiter and Robin Leonard (Nolo).