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If you've ever applied for a credit card, a personal loan, or insurance, there's a file about you. This file is known as your credit report. It is packed full of information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you've been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses with a legitimate need for it. They use the information to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or a lease.
Having a good credit report means it will be easier for you to get loans and lower interest rates. Lower interest rates usually translate into smaller monthly payments, and a lower re-payment of the loan.
Nevertheless, newspapers, radio, TV, and the Internet are filled with ads for companies and services that promise to erase accurate negative information in your credit report in exchange for a fee. The scam artists who run these ads not only don't deliver — they can't deliver. Only time, a deliberate effort, and a plan to repay your bills will improve your credit as it's detailed in your credit report.
You have the right to know what's in your report, but you have to ask for the information. The consumer reporting company must tell you everything in your report, and give you a list of everyone who has requested your report within the past year — or the past two years if the requests were related to employment.
Consumer reporting companies collect and sell four basic types of information:
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