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Credit Reporting - Financial Regulation

Many consumers are not aware of what affects their credit report and the steps needed to improve their credit standing. Late payments, judgments and liens as well as open accounts in good standing all play a part in helping current and future lenders assess credit worthiness. A consumer credit report can change daily depending on if new information is provided by a lender or other entity supplying information that would impact a credit report.

Information in a consumer credit report and the length of time that information is reported includes:

  • Collections, late payments, delinquencies, and judgments, which stay on a credit report for 7 years
  • Bankruptcies, which stay on a credit report for up to 10 years
  • Accounts closed in good standing, which stay on a credit report for 10 years
  • Tax liens, which can stay on a credit report indefinitely
  • Credit inquiries (i.e. requests by others for information about your credit), which stay on a credit report for 2 years
  • Open, positive accounts, which stay on a credit report indefinitely

Anyone with what is considered a permissible purpose can look at your credit report. Some of these companies, groups and individuals include:

  • Potential lenders or creditors
  • Landlords
  • Potential employers
  • Insurance companies
  • Companies monitoring your accounts for identity theft
  • Government agencies (although they may only be allowed to view certain portions)
  • Companies needing your credit history for a product or service you have requested
  • State or local child support agency

However, someone needing access to your credit history must disclose their request and generally get your authorization. If you fill out an application for credit, this may constitute authorizing the pulling of your credit report. Make sure to read the fine print and ask questions before submitting any type of credit application.

Your rights to accurate, private and fair credit reporting are covered by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. The State of Maryland has established additional consumer rights for its residents. If you are disputing information contained in your credit file, please try to resolve the matter directly with the consumer credit reporting agency. If you are dissatisfied with the results, you may file a written complaint with the Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation.

You can access your free credit report from the three bureaus once every 12-months by visiting or calling 1-877-322-8228 or by mail: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You will be able to see reports from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. Information may vary in each report so it’s essential to look at all three. Additionally, Maryland law gives its residents the right to access a free copy of their report annually meaning you can access your reports from the three credit bureaus twice per year for free.

Your credit score is not included when you pull your credit report and the three bureaus will normally charge a fee to see your credit score. Your credit score is a numerical representation (ranging from 300–850) of your credit history where the higher the number, the better. Higher credit scores will usually allow for a better chance of approval on loan applications as well as lower interest rates that can reduce monthly payment amounts and save you money over time. Your credit score will change over time as your credit history updates. Items that factor into your credit score include:

  • Payment history
  • Amounts owed
  • Credit history length
  • New accounts/credit
  • Types of credit in use

Things such as delinquencies, too much debt, too many new accounts and not enough credit history can negatively affect your credit score. Paying your bills on time, minimizing debt, and reducing the number of new accounts you open can have a positive effect on your credit. Things such as your race, religion, gender, marital status, age, nationality and receiving public assistance are not part of your credit history. Additionally you have the right to the following when it comes to your report:

  • Confidentiality
  • Accuracy
  • What’s in your report
  • Ability to provide a statement in your report explaining a certain account standing
  • Know who has accessed your report
  • Ability to correct errors in your report

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