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Acquiring Credit and Credit Reports

Acquiring a Credit History

Young people either fresh out of high school or college may have difficulty acquiring their first credit card because they do not have a credit history yet. It may be easiest to get one through your own bank or credit union where you already have an account. Or you can apply for a special student credit card which has a lower credit limit but can help you get started showing that you can be responsible with money.

acquiring credit Another group of people who may have difficulty obtaining credit are people who have just moved to another country. Your credit history usually applies only within one country. So, if you have been living in the United States and then retire to a country in the Caribbean, when you apply for  a mortgage to buy that condo on the beach, you would usually not be approved because of a lack of credit history, even if you had an excellent credit rating in the U.S.

An immigrant must establish a credit history from scratch in the new country. Therefore, it is usually very difficult for immigrants to obtain credit cards and mortgages until after they have worked in the new country with a stable income for several years. Some credit card companies (e.g. American Express) will transfer your credit cards from one country to another and thus help you start a new credit history.

Acquiring Credit Reports

The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion and they track credit histories and make them available to businesses and banks whenever you apply for credit or even for a new job. It is important that you understand your credit score and how to read your credit report so that you ensure that your report is accurate and doesn’t have any unexplained negative entries. Organizations that issue credit like to know that  you take your credit seriously, so even if you have negative issues you should explain them in a way that shows that you are responsible and intend to pay your bills but perhaps you ran into a bit of a rough patch financially.

There are many businesses that advertise that they provide services to consumers to check their credit reports and confirm the information in them. But in the US, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that any national consumer credit reporting agency (including those mentioned above and any national specialty consumer reporting agency (including Innovis, PRBC, Teletrack) provide a free copy of your credit report to any consumer who requests it, once per year. Many of them have a link directly from their homepage to a request form, so you do not need to use any site that claims to provide this service for you.

The only exception is  https://www.annualcreditreport.com is actually run by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, simply fill out the form on the annual credit report site . Your credit report, provides you with all of the information that would be provided by the consumer reporting company to a lender. It also tells you who has received a consumer report about you from that particular consumer reporting company within a certain period of time. It may also include information that is not included in the consumer report a lender would receive, such as the inquiries of companies for pre-approved offers of credit or insurance and account reviews, and any medical account information which is suppressed for third party users of consumer reports.

How Often Should You Request a Credit Report?

You can request your credit report as much as once a year per agency. So you can request one from a different company every four months, i.e. alternate requests by contacting each agency one after the other. Or you could request them all at the same time through the annualcreditreport.com site. There are advantages to each method. By requesting them all at once you can compare them and locate discrepancies easier.  But by ordering different ones every four months you can monitor changes or new information better.

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