Welcome to "FAQs"
Because every situation and circumstance is unique, the answer to YOUR question may require a different answer or explanation than what is given here. Please consider the answers to the following hypothetical questions to be generic in nature and not specific to your needs. As always, do not consider this to be legal or accounting advice. You should always consult a paid professional.
Common Credit Questions:
Q: How do I get my free once-a-year
A: Log on
at annualcreditreport.com. If you prefer, you may call toll free
1-877-322-8228 or write to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
Post Office Box 105281
Atlanta, GA. 30348-5281
Q: If I need to buy my
credit report, how do I do that?
A: Through the link provided by
the "big 3" credit reporting
agencies. They are: www.transunion.com,
Why can't I get credit?
A: Nobody knows but the people you’re making applications to. If you don’t know what’s on your credit file, you should. That is the place to start.
Q: Is my credit good (or bad)?
A: The answer to that lies with whomever you apply. Each creditor sets their own unique standards as to what they consider a good or poor credit risk.
Q: I paid that account (or collection, or
judgment). Why is it still on my credit report?
A: Because if paid items were removed, you and your creditors would have no record of how you paid. A credit
report includes how you have paid in the past, not only who you owe today.
Q: I filed bankruptcy on that item, why is it still on my credit
A: Because the creditor does not have to remove it. Your
creditor must show the balance to be zero but, they are not required to
Q: How long after I file bankruptcy will it be before I can get credit?
A: Immediately, in many cases. Filing bankruptcy does not mean that you will never again get credit. However, in many cases it does mean that instead of qualifying for that car loan at 6 percent interest, you’ll qualify at 16 percent.
Q: What’s my credit score?
A: There are several types of credit scoring products available to lenders. Your actual score would depend greatly on which one your creditor uses.
Q: How do I find out what my credit score is?
A: Click on the link provided on this web site and you’ll be able to get it there.
Q: How do I improve my credit score?
A: There are many answers to this question. Perhaps the best answer would be for you to go to any number of web sites that sell that information. We recommend myfico.com. That site is
operated by Fair, Isaac Company who is an industry leader in scoring products.
Q: How do I get a copy of my husbands (or wifes or boy/girlfriends) credit
A: You don’t. At least not without a court order and/or power of attorney.
Q: How long does bankruptcy stay on my credit
A: 7 to 10 years depending on what chapter you filed.
Q: How long do collections and/or
judgments stay on my credit report?
A: 7 years
Q: Who can get my credit
A: You can, along with any business or individual that has a “permissible purpose” as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Generally, a “permissible purpose” is if you owe them money or want to owe them money. The most common users of your credit
report will be banks, finance companies, credit unions, current or potential employers, landlords, and insurance companies. Obviously, there are circumstances when others may have a legal right to your credit
report and some instances when others will not.
Q: Can a law enforcement agency get my credit report?
A: As we understand it, only with a court order signed by a federal judge and served on the corporate office of the credit reporting agency.
Q: Why did this company turn me down for credit?
A: Only the company that denied you credit knows that!
Q: Whom do I owe money to?
A: Only you know that for sure. Your credit
report will contain the information provided by all your creditors who contribute to Trans Union. If you owe someone who does not share the information with credit bureaus, that information will not be there.
Q: How do I get wrong information corrected?
A: Simple. Get a copy of your Trans Union file by clicking on the link provided on this web site and follow the instructions. All credit reporting agencies are required to follow very strict laws, rules and regulations that were passed by Congress and are included in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and others.
Many people have had great success correcting information by visiting the
Trans Union site, transunion.com; clicking on Consumer Issues and then on
Dispute an Item.
Q: Why do I not have a credit
A: The most common 3 answers to this are: 1. You are young and have not yet established credit, or 2. You have not used credit for a number of years and your credit
report was purged for inactivity, or 3. You have always done business with lenders who do not share the information with credit reporting agencies.
Q: I did not file bankruptcy but “XYZ” Credit Card says that I did. Why?
A: If you have “joint” credit with someone; whether it be on a credit card, a house, an auto loan or any other type of loan; you are likely just as responsible for repayment as the primary borrower. If the other person files bankruptcy on that item, it
may appear on your credit report as “included in bankruptcy”. In most of these cases we have seen, you do not actually have a bankruptcy on your credit file; you have a record that one or more of your credit lines is included in bankruptcy.
Q: A creditor is demanding payment and my ex-husband/wife filed bankruptcy on those. Why are they calling me?
A: If you were one of the original creditors – you most likely owe it and they most likely can enforce it.
Q: My “ex” got those bills in the divorce – why are they calling me?
A: Your divorce decree most likely has no effect on the original creditor. The divorce decree is a matter between you and your “ex” and most likely doesn’t remove your legal obligation to pay.
Q: My wallet was stolen along with my credit cards and social security card. What now?
A: Here’s yet another good reason to conduct all your business with local creditors. How much easier would it be to walk into your local, hometown bank
(or finance company or credit union) than to make numerous long distant phone calls to the stranger (three states over) who handles your MasterCard and Visa?
This is going to take some time, effort and patience on your part. Here’s what we recommend.
1. Contact Trans Union, Equifax and Experian (the big three credit reporting agencies) and ask to put a “consumer statement” on your credit file. We believe you can reach them at their fraud centers and those numbers are:
Trans Union 1-800-680-7289
At this same time, tell the credit reporting agencies that you may become a victim or fraud and why.
2. Contact your local Secretary of State about the drivers’ license, your local Social Security office and all the credit card companies.
3. Report it to the police.
4. Monitor your credit situation by contacting the credit reporting agencies on a regular basis. This way you can see if someone you have not made an application with has inquired on your credit
report or if a lender unfamiliar to you is reporting an account you did not open.
Q: How do I establish credit?
A: If you are a young person with no credit, go to your local bank or credit union where you have a checking account or savings account and see if you qualify for any products they offer. If you own a car for example, you may be able to borrow money against that, deposit the loan proceeds in a savings account there and then make the monthly payments without effecting your budget. Be sure to ask your bank or credit union if they report their loan information to Trans Union. If they do not, then you are not getting credit (no pun intended) for all your efforts!
Say you are recently divorced or widowed and need to establish or re-establish credit. Under these circumstances, we recommend you first look at your current credit file to get an idea of where you stand. You must first find out what is on your credit file in order to determine how best to fix it or improve it.
If you’ve had “bad” credit because you filed bankruptcy or otherwise not taken care of your obligations again we’d recommend the first step of getting a current copy of your Trans Union file. Remember the old saying, “time heals all wounds”? Well, that is somewhat true with your credit file too. As you re-establish credit, open new accounts and pay them on time…..your past failures will become a smaller and smaller issue for creditors. Over time, your new, good credit will outweigh the older, bad items.
Common Collection Questions:
Q: The collection agency keeps calling. What should I do?
A: First of all you should have called your creditor before the account was sent to a collection agency. Since it is too late to worry about that now, for goodness sake, call the collection agency immediately. No collection agency can force you to have the money to pay, no matter how badly they want to collect the debt. Most collection agencies also know that being rude, offensive or harassing may be illegal and certainly will do nothing to win your cooperation. Call them and ask if you can work something out. You might be surprised.
Q: Since the divorce papers say my “ex” has to pay, why are you calling me?
A: Well, if this was a debt from during your marriage and you both were responsible for it, the divorce decree is only between you and your “ex”. Most divorce decrees have no effect on the creditor. If you elect to ignore it thinking your stubborn behavior will somehow get even with your “ex” – you might
hurt yourself in the long run.
Q: Why did my creditor (doctor, hospital, etc.) turn my bill over to you?
A: Because it was past due. That is generally the only answer we have from your creditor. If you think it was a mistake or that you have already paid it or that there are some other factors involved, you need to call the collection agency immediately and state your case.
Q: What was I treated for at the hospital or clinic?
A: Collection agencies are not provided with this information. We get things like guarantor name, address, and identifying information, patient name, and date of service.
The exact nature of your treatment is something private and confidential
between you and your healthcare provider.
Q: Why didn’t my insurance pay?
A: We might not know; and neither may your doctor. This question brings up other questions like; Did you tell the creditor you had insurance? Was your deductible satisfied? Did you call your insurance company to find out? Is this procedure or service covered under your plan? Remember, this is your insurance and your responsibility. Most health-care providers bill your insurance for you as a service. We are not sure they are legally or morally obligated to do so.
Q: Can collectors call me at work?
A: Of course they can.
Q: Can a collection agency garnish my wages?
A: In many circumstances; yes. Of course, you first have to prove that you are uncooperative and/or unwilling to assist in getting the account resolved. Then the creditor must authorize filing of a small claims complaint, the case must be won against you and assets located to garnish or attach.
Q: Can a collection agency put that account on my credit
Q: What if I dispute the account in collection?
A: Write the collection agency immediately and outline the nature of your dispute. Let them know why you don’t think you owe it or show proof that you have already paid it or, provide any other details to state your position. Most collection agencies will then immediately contact your creditor to discover what they may know about your complaint. If the collection agency has listed the account on your credit file, they will also notify the credit reporting agency to mark the account as disputed.
Q: Can you recommend anyone to help with financial counseling?
A: Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
Be very cautious of businesses that want to charge you a fee to fix your credit. To us, many of those are known as “credit repair” companies. There are very strict laws that govern the content of your credit file. You being knowledgeable about the subject is your best defense. Nobody can offer you a quick “fix”!
Q: Should I file bankruptcy?
A: That decision is yours to make. Before you decide, do some research into the subject. There are some times when bankruptcy is the only solution. However, we’re sure there are many times when people have had serious regrets.
Q: I put my home number on the national “do not call” list. Why are you calling?
A: Collection agencies are not required to follow that list. Collection agencies are not telemarketers; they represent your creditors.