The availability of credit has created an entire service industry dedicated to compiling and reporting the credit worthiness of individuals. Large information corporations compile data on the financial activities of consumers who use credit. The information is collected and disseminated by local organizations known as "consumer reporting agencies" under the regulations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA limits credit report access to those with a legitimate business need for the information (such as lenders, potential employers and insurance companies) in connection with a consumer’s credit transaction.
A person’s credit history is composed of "credit accounts," which are debts, judgments or other obligations incurred by that individual. Each credit account has a rating from 1 to 9, with 1 being the best (account was timely paid) to 8 (repossession) and 9 (debt not collectable and written off by the lender). Creditors submit information regarding debts and payment history to the credit reporting agency to allow creditors to evaluate the credit worthiness of a potential credit recipient.
Not all information collected in the credit history may be reported by a credit reporting agency. All data more than seven years old (and bankruptcy actions more than 10 years old) are considered obsolete. Such obsolete information is not removed from the credit history; rather, it is simply not reported for most requests. All information in a credit history is reported if the credit transaction exceeds $150,000 (such as the issuance of an insurance policy) or if the credit recipient applies for a job with an annual salary of $75,000 or more.
Upon request, a consumer can obtain a summary of the information in the credit reporting agency’s files and the identities of those who have received a credit report about them in the past six months (two years for employment purposes). If the consumer disputes the report, the agency must investigate the record and current status of the disputed information. Should the agency determine that the entry is inaccurate or can no longer be verified, the agency must delete the information. If the agency and consumer cannot reach a satisfactory agreement, then the consumer is entitled to submit a statement of up to 100 words that the agency will include in any subsequent credit checks. A credit reporting agency that willfully or negligently fails to comply with the requirements of the FCRA can be liable for actual and punitive damages, court costs and attorney’s fees. Furthermore, it is a crime to obtain credit information about someone under false pretenses.
Obtaining Your Credit Record
First, always check the local yellow pages under "credit reporting agencies" to see who services your local area. If there is none available, personnel with the following organizations should be able to help you:
Experien Credit Data (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 2106
Allen TX 75013
P.O. Box 4081
Atlanta GA 30302
(800) 685-1111 or (404) 885-8000
East: P.O. Box 360
Philadelphia PA 19105
Midwest: Consumer Relations
P.O. Box 2926
Wichita KS 67201
(800) 241-2858 or (316) 263-9161
South: Consumer Relations
222 S. First Street, Suite 201
Louisville KY 40202
West: P.O. Box 3110
Fullerton CA 92634
(800) 916-8800 or (714) 738-3800
CSC Credit Services, Inc.
652 East North Belt, Suite 133
Houston TX 77060
The only way to maintain a strong credit rating is to pay all debts and obligations as they become due. Once an account has a bad rating, it usually stays that way, even if the debt is later paid. Note that a credit rating is an overall compilation of the consumer’s various credit accounts. Therefore, credit worthiness will remain high in the face of one minor problem if the consumer has a history of timely repayment.
The preceding discussion of credit ratings is only a brief overview. As always, contact the base Legal Office with any questions.
Legal assistance is provided on a walk-in basis from 0830 - 1100 Tuesday & Wednesday and 1400 - 1600 & 1700 – 1830 Thursday. The Legal Office is closed on productivity days and federal holidays. Notary and power of attorney services are available on a walk-in basis from 0900 to 1600 Monday through Friday.
5109 Austin Ellipse
Moody AFB, GA
FAX (229) 257-2646