Factual Data is a leading provider of independent verification to mortgage lenders, consumer lenders, property management firms, and other businesses.
Your credit report
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, which amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act, allows consumers to request a free credit file disclosure or credit report once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. AnnualCreditReport.com is the centralized source for consumers to request annual free credit file disclosures. It is the only web site permitted to process requests for annual free credit file disclosures authorized by law. For more information, please reference A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Factual Data may choose not to provide a report for certain purposes despite such purposes being designated as permissable under the statute.
For information on how to defer, detect, and defend against identity theft, please refer to these web sites:
FAQs about credit reporting
Q: What's in a consumer credit report?
A: The report consists of four types of information. First, identifying information, such as name, last reported address, marital status, Social Security number, date of birth, spouse's name, number of dependents, previous address, and employment information, is listed at the top of the report as a security measure to help ensure the right credit report is sent to the right person.
Next, the consumer's credit information including credit account numbers, the creditors' names, the amount of last payment, credit limits, and the timeliness of the credit payments is listed. This segment is the most important because creditors like to see timely payments of credit card and loan obligations.
On some reports, a listing of public record information including tax liens, court judgments, and bankruptcies may be listed. Lenders find this information important because it represents legally mandated debt obligations.
Finally, the inquiry section notes all creditors that have reviewed a copy of the credit report. This section is important for consumers to review when they receive a copy of their report because it serves as an audit trail to ensure no unauthorized parties have accessed the report.
Q: Do credit reports contain information about a consumer's personal lifestyle?
A: Absolutely not. Credit reports do not contain any information about a person's character, lifestyle, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sexual preferences, friends, or relatives. Nor do credit bureaus collect or transmit data on an individual's medical history, checking or savings accounts, brokerage accounts, or similar financial records.
Q: Are there any laws that regulate credit bureaus?
A: The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the federal law that regulates the credit reporting industry. It states that consumers have the right to know the contents of their own credit records and the right to challenge the accuracy of information and have it reverified, updated, or removed. It also limits the time negative information can be kept on a credit record and assures that only persons with a legal permissible purpose will have access to a consumer's credit history.
Numerous state laws also cover credit reporting.
Q: How long does negative (but accurate) information remain in a consumer's credit file?
A: Bankruptcies remain in a credit report for 10 years, other information stays for seven years. In the case of successfully completed Chapter 13 bankruptcies, the credit reporting industry maintains the information for seven years.
Q: How can a consumer correct an error in his or her file?
A: If an error has cropped up in a consumer's credit report, the credit bureau should be notified immediately. The Fair Credit Reporting Act outlines the steps to be taken in the reinvestigation of any possible inaccuracies. The credit bureau will reverify the item in question with the creditor at no cost to the consumer. The law requires that a creditor respond to reinvestigations within 30 days. After the reinvestigation is complete, the credit reporting agency notifies the consumer of the outcome. If information in the report has been changed or deleted, the consumer is sent a copy of the revised report.
Q: What about companies that claim they can improve a consumer's credit report for a fee?
A: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cautions consumers to be wary of companies that make claims indicating they can "repair" your credit and allow you instant access to credit. These companies, called credit clinics or credit doctors, don't do anything for consumers that they cannot do for themselves at little or no cost. In addition, these organizations generally can't live up to their promises. Meanwhile, you could be out several hundred or thousands of dollars. Beware of any organization that offers to create a new identity and credit file for you. The FTC and Attorneys General have filed actions against those who pursue these fraudulent practices.
According to the FTC and other organizations, consumers should look out for these warning signs to determine if they might be dealing with a credit clinic:
An organization that guarantees to remove late payments, bankruptcies, or similar information from a credit report
An organization that charges more than a minimal fee to repair credit
A company that asks the consumer to write to the credit bureau and repeatedly seek verification of the same credit account information in the file, month after month, even though the information has been determined to be correct
An organization that is reluctant to provide its address or one that pushes a consumer to make a decision immediately
For a helpful brochure about credit clinics, you can write to the Federal Trade Commussion and request request the "Credit Repair: Self Help May Be Best" brochure.:
Federal Trade Commission
Sixth and Pennsylvania Avenues, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004
Q: How accurate is the information in a credit report?
A: The fundamental goal of the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) is to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of credit information provided to credit grantors. CDIA members have a vested interest in the accuracy of the information the organization protects. The less accurate the information, the less value it is to those who grant credit.
Considering the enormous volume of credit information that is transmitted in the U.S. – 4.5 billion pieces of information are updated in consumer credit files each month – the industry has an extraordinary record of accuracy, which has been attested to by the Federal Reserve Board and others who track consumer financial data.
Q: Is consumer service a priority for the credit reporting industry?
A: Yes. The industry believes consumers have a right to responsive service when checking and reverifying information in their credit reports. The four reporting systems have added toll-free telephone numbers and hired more than 1,000 employees to provide customer service. Our commitment to consumer service has resulted in numerous new policies adopted by the credit reporting industry to improve response time to consumers, enhance the privacy of the file information, and reduce the potential of identity theft. The success of these initiatives has been validated, as many of them were later codified in law.
Q: How private is the information in a credit report?
A: The Fair Credit Reporting Act, grants credit report access to companies that have a legal "permissible purpose." The Act specifies permissible purposes as the granting of credit, the collection of a debt, the underwriting of insurance, employment purposes, issuing a license as required by some government agencies, or legitimate business transactions between a business and a consumer. Obtaining a credit report under false pretenses and the improper use of a credit report are violations of federal law. When privacy violations occur, the credit reporting industry notifies the appropriate law enforcement authorities.