ACCC Explains How Consumers Should Read their Credit Reports

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National nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling offers five tips on what to look for in a credit report.

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By going through your credit report, you can search for any red flags such as incorrect information, unfamiliar transactions or credit inquiries that weren’t authorized.

Reading credit reports can be tricky and stressful, especially if consumers aren’t completely sure what they are looking at. National nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) explains how consumers can successfully read their credit reports.

“Consumers need to pay attention to their credit reports even if they do not have any debt,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “By going through your credit report, you can search for any red flags such as incorrect information, unfamiliar transactions or credit inquiries that weren’t authorized.”

According to a recent study done by Experian, the average credit score in the U.S. is 703, up from 701 in 2018, while 58 percent have a score greater than 703. Twenty-one percent of consumers have a score that falls in the “good” category with a score between 670-739, 25 percent fall in the “very good” category with a score between 740-799, and 21 percent fall in the “exceptional category with a score between 800-850.

ACCC offers advice on how to read credit reports.

1.    Personal Information –     It is important to confirm that all personal information that could be used to identify you is accurate, and not about someone else who shares the name. This section includes a consumer’s name, address, social security number, date of birth, and phone number.
2.    Credit history – Read and reread the credit history section. This section includes credit card accounts, shared accounts, total loan accounts, remaining loan balances, late payments and accounts that have been sent to collections. It is important to check that all information listed is accurate.
3.    Negative Information – This section will contain a list of any accounts that have not been paid, as well as public records. Negative information is rare, but remains on the report for seven years. If a consumer has inaccurate negative information listed, they should get this fixed immediately.
4.    Credit Inquiries – This section will list every time someone has requested a consumer’s credit report. Although credit report access laws vary by state, they can usually be accessed by banks, creditors and lenders. Hard inquiries occur when a consumer authorizes a potential creditor to access their report. This can have a small negative impact on the consumer’s credit score. Soft inquiries do not affect a consumer’s score and happen when they check their credit, or when someone wants to send them a promotional offer.
5.    Follow up with any inaccuracies – It is essential to clear up any mistakes as soon as possible. To do so, mail the credit reporting agency with the error a letter explaining the situation along with any documents or proof of the mistake.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

  • For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
  • For bankruptcy counseling, call 866-826-6924
  • For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
  • Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com

About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling and financial education concerning debt solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education.aspx

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