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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How Others Can Affect Your Credit Report

By Jim Bransby

You are on a clean slate with your credit; all of your loans are paid off, you never miss any payments, and you have never came close to going over your credit limit. Suddenly, when you get your first credit report you get an abrupt smack in the mouth as you realize that it definitely does not make sense. Not only could your report have gotten confused with a relative or someone with a similar name, but it could be a result of identity theft miles away.

Sadly, individuals aside from you can play a factor in your credit report. There are many different ways this can happen - usually through identity theft or identification mistakes. No matter how bad the damage may seem, just relax and figure out exactly what is going on in the report.

How does this happen? There are many different ways. Most of these though are through mix ups with the report. This means that they someone cross referenced your information with someone who has a closely related name; which ultimately results in an awkward score that can be easily disputed. However, if this does happen to you; remember to get your credit report more regularly in case it does not get fixed right away.

The second big thing is the pre-adult credit cards. When you were in high school and your parents gave you a credit card with your name on it for gas and food - those concert tickets were never part of the deal. So instead of paying the bill, they cancel the card and those debts still linger. Now that comes back to haunt you. Do not be too concerned as these can be disputed and often times taken off with patience and time.

The biggest and most worried about possibility is identity theft. Whether or not the person has a close name to yours could determine if it really was identity theft; and if there name is nothing like yours, it is. As soon as you see these charges on your credit report, dispute the claims and report the crime as well. The longer this goes on the worse shape you are in.

One of the first things to do is to look at your credit cards and bank accounts to make sure that nothing has been taken out without your authorization. If you find that there are fraudulent withdrawals, you again need to get in touch with the credit card company and/or bank IMMEDIATELY to put a hold on your account.

If you feel it necessary, you can also file a report with the state you live in and with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). This is a popular choice because it shows the credit reporting agencies that you are not just messing around with their mistakes - but you want them fixed, now.

Finally, now that you know all the ways that people can affect your credit score, be careful with your info. Privacy matters, especially when it comes to your finances. Talk to your credit card companies and banks about the best ways to keep your identity safe.

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