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Article originally published August 29th, 2012. Updated October 29th, 2018. 

The emails usually come in the form of a slightly panicked plea, often from individuals who have just used Credit.com’s Free Credit Report Card for the first time. They’ve seen something that they either didn’t expect or think is wrong, or they think their credit scores should be higher.

“How long will it take my credit report to be updated after I pay off a credit card/settle a collection account/get the IRS to remove a tax lien etc.?” The writers of those emails will sometimes go on to explain that they are trying to get a mortgage, auto loan, or some other type of loan, and want to make sure their latest credit report information is considered.

So, How Often Does Your Credit Report Change?

Like so many things in life, your credit report can change in the blink of an eye.

“Right now it’s 11:40 my time,” said Rod Griffin, director of public relations for Experian, when I interviewed him for this story. “Let’s say a lender requested your credit report right now. If you apply for credit (again) in an hour your credit report could be different,” he says, referring to the inquiry that would have been generated when the first lender accessed my credit information.

“Credit reports can change as often as every day if there is new information provided to the credit bureaus,” says Barry Paperno, community director for Credit.com.

If you want to be technical about it, you don’t really have a credit report on file with the credit reporting agencies, to begin with. Explains Griffin: “We have information from each of the lenders, and we go out to our databases and compile information from those databases when a credit report is requested.  Your credit report represents a snapshot of your credit history at any given point in time.”

That means that the information is available in the credit reporting agencies’ (CRAs) databases at the time a credit report is requested is the information that will be reported. “You don’t have a credit report until you apply for credit and it’s requested,” Griffin says.

But it’s not like checking your online bank account and seeing the debit card purchase you made a few minutes ago in your running balance. “It’s not real time,” says Griffin.

While lenders often supply information to the CRAs on a daily basis, that doesn’t mean your account information is updated that frequently. “Lenders may have millions of customers, and they don’t update all of their information at the same time,” Griffin points out.  He goes onto add that many lenders report account information around the close of the customer’s billing cycle.

But it’s not just information that is added to credit reports that cause them to change. Information also is removed or suppressed in the CRAs’ databases. Certain types of credit information must be removed when required under federal or state law, for example. “We’re also constantly tracking dates in case information needs to be removed because it’s too old. For example, Chapter 13 bankruptcy will automatically be removed seven years from the filing date,” Griffin says. You don’t have to ask the CRAs to remove information that should no longer be reported. It should happen automatically.

And just as credit reports can change at any time, so can credit scores. There’s a common perception that a “credit score is calculated, stored on a shelf somewhere, and changed periodically,” says Paperno. Instead, it is calculated when it is requested, based on the information from a CRA that is available at that time.

Does this change how you should view your credit report? Not really. You’ll still want to make sure you stay on top of your credit information, so you can challenge mistakes if necessary.  To do that:

Check Your Credit Reports

At least once a year, get your free credit reports and check that they are accurate and complete. (As we mentioned earlier, you can also get your credit score and a snapshot of your credit report using Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card.)

Give Yourself Time

Check your reports 3–6 months before applying for a major loan like a mortgage or auto loan, recommends Griffin. Doing so will give you time for your credit report to be corrected and updated if you do find mistakes.

Be Patient

It may take 30–45 days or so for updated information to appear on credit reports requested by you or a lender, due to the reporting process. If you’ve recently paid off a credit card with a high balance, for example, it may take a little time to see the lower balance reported.

What Kind of Information is Reported?

Depending on the lender, they may be reporting back to the three major credit bureaus at least once every thirty days. However, you may find that other lenders may be reporting to the bureaus less frequently.

So, when they report, what are they reporting?

Late Payments: this is one of the biggest components of your credit report. One missed or late payment can actually stay on your credit report for up to seven years from the date of the missed payment. However, you don’t usually get reported for this until the account is at least thirty days past due.

New Credit Accounts: it can take some time for a new credit account to show up on your credit report. This new information will typically show up between one and two months of opening the new account, and you will see a hard inquiry prior to the new account showing up.

How Can I Speed up the Credit Report Changes?

If you are about to apply for a mortgage and want to speed up the process of your credit report change, rapid rescoring is one way you can do so. A rapid rescore involves getting proof that doing so will better your chances at an improved or reduced interest rate. However, the lender will have to make this request, and they also have to pay for the service.

If you had recently paid off a big account and know that your credit score would have improved significantly, and you can’t wait the thirty to sixty days for it to show up, then it never hurts to ask a lender if they would consider a rapid rescoring, so you can get the better rate.

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  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Please contact customer support through your credit report dashboard and they will be happy to try to help. Keep in mind our information comes form Experian so if you haven’t seen that actual report recently do get it. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Robin — It may just take some time for your score to reflect new information in your credit report. A 2% difference in credit utilization won’t make a huge difference in your scores. Have you checked your credit reports to make sure all the information there is accurate? Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Robin —
    Several things make up your credit score, and you are right to focus on paying on time and in full. Where you may be running into trouble is with something called credit utilization (that’s the percent of available credit you are using). It’s a good idea to keep that below 30% (and below 10% is even better). Another part of your score is based on diversity of credit (meaning loans as well as credit cards, and some credit unions offer “credit-builder” loans for the purpose of helping people build or rebuild credit). We suggest you check your free credit score from Credit.com. It is updated every 30 days, and it explains the factors that affect your score and shows you how well you’re doing in each. It also has a personalized action plan for improvement. You should also take a look at your credit reports to be sure the information is accurate, because credit scores are derived from information in credit reports. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    If you got it in August then it may not have first reported until Sept and with less than two month’s of history that may not be enough to generate a score. With many scoring models you need six month’s of payment history to generate a score.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    How long have you had the Bank of America card? I am not surprised if the Discover card isn’t reporting – it’s very new. And there is only so much you can “speed up” the process, Have you talked with a credit union to see if they might be willing to extend a car loan? Here’s a list of
    credit unions that offer car loans nationally.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    It is impossible to say, because so many variables are at work in your credit score (paying on time, diversity of credit, how much of your available credit you use, how long you’ve had credit, and applications for more credit). So there are a lot of moving parts. There are hundreds of scoring models, but all use the variables listed. We recommend getting a free credit score and monitoring the same score over time to see improvements. (But understand your score fluctuates from day to day.) It’s also a good idea to check your credit reports and dispute any errors. Here’s how to get your free annual credit reports.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    If that is happening to you, we encourage you to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or to contact a consumer law attorney. Here’s where to file a complaint: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/#credit-report

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    I am sorry I am not familiar with the term consumer proposal. What country do you live in?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Is it not yours? Have you tried disputing it? Here’s how to dispute an error on your credit report.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Is it not yours? Have you tried disputing it? Here’s how to dispute an error on your credit report.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Anytime there is incorrect information, you dispute it. (In your case, you’ll want to see if the information is on reports from the three major credit reporting bureaus.) Here’s information you may find useful:

    A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    The answers can vary, though the statute of limitations applies to how long a debt can be collected rather than how long it can be collected. You can learn more about the issue here:
    Does Your Old Debt Have an Expiration Date?

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    You first need to do so in writing with the agencies that are reporting the wrong information. if they won’t fix it try the creditor, and if they won’t fix it file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This article may help: A Step-By-Step Guide to Disputing Credit Report Mistakes

  • Art

    Also it doesn’t take 6 months in my opinion. Sometimes as fast as 3 days. And sometimes as long as 2 months. I check credit reports every day. It usually doesn’t take more than a month to report a payment. Sometimes it doesn’t show a payment for the current month and the previous month but I haven’t seen an account that is current but has not been reported for more than 2 months.

  • Art

    Hello, i have the answer to you question. Lenders usually report what’s on the monthly statement. If you check your credit card monthly statement and your credit report, you will see the same numbers most of the time. So make sure your balance is low before the statement date. Try not to go over %24 of the limit but if you keep it under %14 would be better in my opinion. I do auto finance. I noticed high scores in those cases. Im not an expert, just an auto finance guy. Hopefully this will be helpful 🙂

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Wow – sounds like you have been through it all. Have you shopped around for a refinance or just tried the lender who currently holds the loan? I would encourage you to try elsewhere if you haven’t. If you have, then you may need to focus on trying to pay down the credit cards. You can’t do much about the fact that your credit history is short, but if you can pay down some of the cards, your credit scores may rise enough that you qualify.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Antonio —
    Co-signing for your brother’s care could indeed affect your credit scores. Lenders will consider his monthly car payments part of your monthly debt obligations when deciding if you have enough income to buy a car. That said, income does not affect credit scores; it’s all about how the loans or credit lines in your name are repaid. (Income comes into play when lenders are deciding whether you have the income to repay the money you are borrowing.) You may find these posts from our site useful:
    <a href="How Co-Signing Can Affect More Than Just Your Credit Score and The First Thing to Do Before Buying a Car. Good luck to you.

  • Christina

    My credit report shows double the student loans I should have. I currently owe $23,xxx my report shows $49,xxx. Recently my student loans were sold to another company. Could that be why the amount is off? I do have one student loan on my report that I co-signed for my brother. Which is why the total of 49 isnt exactly double my current balance. The loans show they were last reported on 12/31. How often do student loan lenders update the reporting balance?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Most lenders report once a month, so a last reporting date of 12/31 wouldn’t be unusual (since we are only in mid-January). You don’t say how recently they were sold, but if it’s within the last 60 -90 days I’d say wait until that time has elapsed and if balances are still showing up on the loans that were sold – and there is no notation that they were sold and transferred – dispute them.

      Does the Way Student Loans Are Reported Hurt Your Credit?

  • shelly gib

    I applied for a mortgage loan with a Builder’s Funding Corp back in August 2013. They have almost finished building the home – completion is set for Feb 2014. This week I receive the Fair Report stating my interest rate was increased due to several inquiries. All of the inquiries were from the funding group and the credit company they use to pull my report. I now must pay an additional $40 a month on my mortgage. Is this legal? I didn’t do anything, they pulled my record 12 times since August 2013. In fact, they are the only ones that had done the inquires. Who can I contact for help?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Shelly – I sent you a response by email. Did you get it?

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Scott —
    Both co-signers are equally responsible for the loan. So if the loan is not repaid as agreed, both your score and that of your co-signer are affected. Conversely, if the loan IS repaid as agreed, it helps both scores. You can learn more in these Credit.com posts: Should You Co-Sign That Loan? and How Co-Signing Can Affect More Than Just Your Credit Score.

  • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

    Jack – Paying a debt does not make it come off your credit reports. If you can please be more specific about what these two items are, how old they are, and how you have tried to get them resolved, we’ll try to point you in the right direction.

  • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

    Naveen — When you pulled your credit score, what were the top negative factors? All credit scores return “score factors” or “reason codes” that tell you exactly where you lost the most points in your credit score. These reasons help you pinpoint areas that you’d need to focus on in order to improve and they’re specific to the individual. You can read more about this here:

    Credit Score Reason Codes: What They Mean and Why You Should Care

    Also, as far as inquiries go, they only account for 10% of the score so even though you may lose a few points for inquiries, there’s a lot more to your credit score. The good news about inquiries is that even though they remain on your credit report for 2 years, they’re only calculated in your credit score for the first 12 months.

  • Rachel

    My husband and I are trying to finance a new home. We have been without credit cards for 17 years. none. When we went to the bank for a pre-approval, they approved us, but said we had no “revolving credit.” we have paid off our car loans, one of two student loans and have only have a new car lease as reported debt (it’s leased because it’s a business expense). My husband has always been a firm believer in save, and then get. not get and then pay off. The bank recommended that we get 3 credit cards .. use them for a couple months up to the limit, pay smaller payments for the few months and then pay them off. They said by showing we can use the revolving and then pay them off the score will raise and we can get a better closing cost. We did just that, got a couple of cards and have used them, and paid them off. We got the cards about 6 mths ago.

    We put money down and signed an agreement for the new purchase with the seller. SO, now when we went to the bank to finalize our loan, The bank said NO! What?? Now they said we have “too new of accounts” “the ratio of debt to income is too great” “amount of credit time is too small” and to top it all off, there is now a collection showing up that we paid in full direct to the company for a cell phone contract termination (because they didn’t offer service in our new area. and WE broke the contract… duh.) The score DROPPED over 80 pts! Now, they say we have to raise the score or get a cosigner. We are supposed to close in 15 days with the seller! We did not put a contingency on the offer of financing since we were already pre-approved and had the letter showing it. We are at stake of losing 5k in earnest money.

    We contacted the collection agency and they are supposed to remove that off his report, they said within 14 days. It’s been 14 days, and it’s still there. AND, now we have 8 hard inquires trying to find another bank that will do the loan with a score at 652. We also have a huge credit card ratio, and they are all paid off…. but still shows the old statement balances. … and all because the BANK requested we do it to get a better rate. UGGH.

    How do i get the report updated timely? How do i get the collection agency to hold to their word. We requested a letter stating they would remove it, haven’t seen it yet either. If we go to any bank now they will pull another inquiry, which will reduce the score again and I don’t know that it will be any better. We even did several in 14 days, they still ALL showed up as hard inquiries, not one inquiry for “shopping around”. We are so frustrated with this system. to those who say cash is best… think again. it totally screwed us over! What do we do now? We read somewhere that with each pull the information will be gathered at that time, and it could be different when the bank pulls it vs what shows online? is that accurate? We have the monitoring, so i can check it throughout this process, but It’s not changing! Any ideas???

    • Deanna Templeton

      Rachel — I cringed as I read your post. There’s just so much wrong here…

      Your mortgage lender gave you bad advice.

      1) Yes, adding one credit card would have probably been good, but adding three at once — score killer. It would do exactly what you’ve described. You’ll be hit for three brand new account openings, you’ll have three inquiries within less than six months (not good), and your credit history across the three cards would be less than 6 months old (they need time to age) so your credit history would be very, very new. The inquiries will stop counting against you after the 12 month mark, but as far as the new accounts go — the only thing you can do is give it time for them to age. For more information on credit scores and how they’re calculated — what counts and what doesn’t, these will help:
      The 5 Things That Affect Your Credit Score
      The Ultimate Guide to Credit Scores

      2) This is terrible advice:

      ” use them for a couple months up to the limit, pay smaller payments for the few months and then pay them off. ”

      Charging cards up to the limit will kill a score in record time. And depending on how long it takes the credit card issuers to send updates to the credit reporting agencies, it could take 60 days for your cards to show a zero balance. He should have told you to charge something small, gas or dinner, to show some activity and then pay off the balance in full each month. Revolving balances and paying interest is not smart and credit scores do not reward you for this. They penalize you. That’s because a large factor of your score looks at your revolving utilization — or the percentage of your balances in relation to the credit limits. (See What Is Revolving Utilization). If you’ve already paid off the balances, my advice would be to contact the credit card issuers and ask them if they’d be willing to report the update to the bureaus early — they may say no, because it costs them money to transmit updates and they typically do this when the monthly statements drop. You can read more about this here. Legally, they’re not obligated to report anything so it’s up to them if they’ll make an exception and report. Plead your case, it never hurts to ask.

      3) A collection would explain an 80 point drop.

      “We contacted the collection agency and they are supposed to remove that off his report, they said within 14 days. It’s been 14 days, and it’s still there.”

      This happens all too often. Collectors may agree verbally to remove a collection if you pay, but unless you get this in writing, it’s not likely to happen. Typically with collections, they are not removed once they’re paid — they’re only updated to show that the collection was paid. If the collection was accurate and did in fact occur, removing it would be frowned upon by the credit reporting agencies and the collector would be breaking contractual agreements with the bureaus. For more on this topic, please see:

      The Dos and Don’ts of Paying a Debt Collector
      Will Paying a Collection Improve My Credit Score?

      4) And finally… after all the bad news, here’s the good. Regarding your concern about the 8 hard inquiries:

      ” AND, now we have 8 hard inquires trying to find another bank that will do the loan with a score at 652.”

      Fortunately, inquiries for mortgage loans are handled much differently by the FICO score model. The score expects that smart consumers would shop around with several different lenders to get the best deal so there is a de-duplication logic built into the model that keeps your score from being penalized for rate shopping. This applies to mortgages, auto loans and student loans. The way it works — all mortgage related inquiries in the first 30 days are completely ignored by the score. After, the inquiries are grouped into 45 day windows so after the 45 day mark, those 8 inquiries only count as 1. (You could have 100 mortgage inquiries in 30 days and none would count against you –after 45 days, those 100 inquiries would count as one.) For more about inquiries, this article is an excellent resource: Should You Be Worried About Credit Report Inquiries?

  • Angela

    My mortgage account was recently sold from HSBC to PHH Mortgage. I ran a credit report and my HSBC mortgage account no longer appears and there is no indication that PHH Mortgage has the account. The reason listed on my credit report for HSBC is “Account transfered to another office”. Should I be concerned that there is no longer a payment history for my mortgage? I’ve only owned the house for 3 years with a 30 yr mortgage.

    • Deanna Templeton

      Angela – It’s not uncommon for mortgage loans to be sold and when it happens, it can take some time for the new account holder to start actively reporting the new account.

      If your mortgage was sold recently (in the last month or two), I’d give it a little time. If it doesn’t show up in the next 30-60 days, you may want to reach out to PHH to directly to inquire about the the delay.

      Keep in mind, however, that lenders aren’t legally required to report account information to the credit reporting agencies (it’s a voluntary system) but the large majority of lenders do — and with mortgage loans especially, it would be very rare if they didn’t. I only mention this in the rare chance that PHH comes back and says they don’t report. It’s highly unlikely but something I thought would be important to note.

  • Credit.com

    Rachel – If the collection is legitimate, they do have the right to report and there’s no law that says the can’t, unfortunately. The same holds true for when they choose to report.

  • Rachel

    I had a pretty good credit score of 700 until recently. A collection was reported on 4/2013. I was shocked and did not know who or what the collection was about, so I filed a dispute with Equifax. It turned out to be a medical collection from 2009 that was paid off in 2010. It was my understanding that because I made payment arrangements and paid it off it would not be reported. So of course I forgot about it. Can a collection be reported for the first time 3 years later? It just doesn’t seem legal. Anyone know?

    • Pamela

      Rachel call the collection agency and ask them to notify the credit bureau and they will take it off I did and they took care of it.

  • Lisa Holmquist

    This is so frustrating…my husband and I paid off two huge credit cards (our last two), totaling $8,000. In the past 6 months we have paid off $30,000 in debt..and our credit scores actually dropped about 10 pts each!!!! What the heck??

    • http://Goggle Kimberly

      Kimberly ……..I’m waiting on a reply to your question Lisa. Because I to just paid off some things on my credit report. I haven’t pulled it again to know if it dropped are raised . But I would like to know why your score dropped so much seems like you should have A1 credit now.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Lisa – Were you using the same service to check your credit score both times? If not, it may have been a matter of a different scoring model or information from a different credit reporting agency. You might want to look at my reply to Jessica in the comments above.

  • http://ccomwp.wpengine.com/2012/08/how-often-does-your-credit-report-change/ Jessica

    My husband and I recently had our credit pulled to see how much we had to improve our credit, he had an average score of 587 and I had an average score of 616 they told us we had to get our score to a 620, to pay off all our debt on our credit report it would lower our score a little and than raise it up within a few months. Well I paid them all off about a month ago and decided to check on freecreditreport.com and my scores have dropped between 50-91 points from paying them off and my husbands 0-38 points why does it drop and will it really raise within the next few months?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Jessica –

      What probably happened here is that the scoring model the lender was using when they pulled your score was different than the model used when you obtained on your own. There are many different scoring models out there, and some even operate on a different scale. We wrote about that in this article: 3 Reasons Why Your Free Credit Score Looks Wrong

      The only way to measure your progress is to check the SAME credit score each month to see what is happening. One way you can do that is with free Credit Report Card.

    • Brian

      Having zero debt lowers your score…put a few bucks on a card even $1 for a pack of gum will raise it..I have seen it happen to me. When I paid everything off my score went down 61 points but when I put $5 on it it raided it 108 points…go figure!!!

  • Jim Scott

    Be aware that the number you receive when you order your credit score from FICO may not be identical to the score your prospective lender receives. My wife and I recently bought a new car, co-applying for a loan through the manufacturers finance arm. We had used this lender to purchase new cars over the past 8 years, and kept a perfect payment history.

    My FICO score was 732, my wife’s, 705. We easily qualified for the low interest loan promotion but the dealer’s business manager showed us that our Experian scores were 762 and 725, respectively. That was good news – but I wondered why. Then I read an article that explained different categories of lenders receive different scores, based on the type of loan applied for. In our case, automobile. I assumed that with our perfect payment record with this particular lender, our score was raised below our ‘average’.

    Something to be aware of when applying for a loan of any type.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      You’re right Jim. Many scores are customized for the lender and/or type of loan.

  • Peter

    How long does a consumer propsal stay on my credit file? Is it as bad as bankruptcy.Since my creditors are being compensated somewhat does that make a difference?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Peter What do you mean by a “consumer proposal?” Are you in the US? If so, then a credit counseling DMP is not as bad for your credit as most people think. I wrote about that in this article: How Do Debt Relief Options Affect Your Credit? However if you are outside the US (which I suspect you are since that’s not a term we use here), I am afraid I don’t know the answer as I am not that familiar with the details of credit scores in other countries.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Peter – Are you in the UK by chance? I’ve never heard of the term consumer proposal in the US.

  • Pingback: The First Thing You Must Do Before Paying Off Debt | DEBT RELIEF NEWS()

  • Milton

    I have had all my AMEX cards declined because of a disputed inflated hospital bill that was not paid by my health plan in 2007. I undestand that the claim will be dropped in 2014. Even with outstanding claim my score is 722 but is still affecting my credit card status even though my credit cards are paid automatically in full every month. My VISA limit was reduced and AMEX cards not recognized. We need to hammer FICA for not being more protective. WRITE YOUR CONGRESSMAN.

  • Rosa Weet

    I have being working on my credit for almost 3 years and my credit scores are 64. I paid most of my bills on time and with experian kept the numers of scores 64. Can you help me understand what is wrong.


    • Gerri Detweiler

      Rosa – I am not aware of any credit scoring model that goes to 64. Would you mind checking your credit score through the Credit.com free Credit Report Card (it’s truly free) and then letting us know what that number is?

      • Rosa Weet

        Thanks, Gerri Detweiler. Sorry, I meant my credit scoring are 645 and no changes since then.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Rosa – I don’t mean to be so vague but it’s so hard to know what’s going on with just the number. You do mention that you have paid most of your bills on time. Does that mean your credit report lists late payments within the past three years? If so, then that would very likely keep your scores down as late payments – especially those within last 24 months – affect your scores quite a bit.

  • Henrietta

    I have had my idenity stolen three times. And I found out that someone took out credit cards in my name. (I don’t use credit cards) When I called the company about the card I was told they would send papers to file fraud charges, but that never happens. They just wait for a few months and then try to collect on the cards again. How can you stop these people from using your information?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Henrietta – At a minimum you should place a fraud alert on your credit file. You may also want to consider a credit freeze. It’s a bit of a hassle but until this dies down it may be worth it. You’ll learn more in our story. What To Do If Your Wallet Is Stolen.

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Place a fraud alert on your credit files. You’ll learn more about that here: What To Do If Your Wallet is Stolen/a>

  • Ernest Rhodes

    Yes a very good article. I was upset with my bank when they told me my credit score. i received my credit score earlier and it was a very decent score, but the bank said i was 4 points from getting an pre approved loan. I was hurt because i paid two cars off last year. My ex wife car and my truck. I know one part of the damage, but i am current on my bills. As a matter of fact i give each of my creditors 50 dollars more. So how can I boost up my credit score? To be honest it is wise to check your credit once or twice a year.

    • Barry Paperno

      Hi Ernest,
      It’s always a challenge to provide worthwhile information on how to raise your credit score without having more information available, but I’ll try. If by “part of the damage” you mean there were some late payments in the recent past, then just make sure everything remains current from here on out, and the negative impact from any late payments will lessen over time.

      Also, if you have any credit card balances that amount to more than 25% of their credit limits, try to lower those balances as much as you can as soon as you can, leaving all accounts open. And lastly, hold off from applying for any more credit, unless you absolutely need to, as the inquiries from those applications can lower your score slightly.


  • Anthony

    I was added as an authorized user on my fiancé’ credit card but it is not appearing on my credit.

    • Barry Paperno

      Hi Anthony,
      I’m assuming you’re trying to build or rebuild your credit, and want the benefit of this card on your credit report. There are a couple of possible reasons why that account isn’t showing up:
      1) If it was just added recently, it make take a month or two to appear
      2) Credit card issuers are not required to report the account for authorized users, so it may never appear on your credit report

      My suggestion would be to contact the bank and first find out it it’s their policy to report on authorized users. If yes, ask them to start, or verify that it will be reported soon. If they don’t report, you may want to either be added to another or your fiance’s cards, if possible, or obtain a secured card that reports to the credit bureaus. Good luck!


  • cindy

    i meant i closed several credit cards,,will that affect my credit score?

    • http://www.credit.com Barry Paperno

      Hi Cindy,
      I don’t blame you for closing those cards, especially if there were annual fees. When closing credit cards your overall credit utilization (balance/limit ratio) on all open cards, and any closed cards that still have a balance, will determine the impact to your score.

      If your overall utilization is low – generally under 25% – there’s less potential damage to your score from closing cards than if your utilization is higher. It also depends on the extent to which any individual cards have high utilization.

      If there’s any damage to your score from closing cards, the length of time it will take for your score to recover mostly depends on how long it takes you to pay those balances down and reduce your credit utilization. The faster you can reduce the credit utilization, the faster your score will recover.


      • cindy

        thank-you barry for the info…i am in the process of paying those credit cards off…i only want one visa to keep my credit in check….thank you for responding …..cindy p

  • cindy

    does closed several credit cards will that affect my credit score? and for how long? i kept only a few open. does it really matter if you only have one or two open to have good credit? i have good credit but i didnt want to have all the cards,,and paying all the high intreast rates were getting to be to much…..

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  • Greg

    I have leased a studio apt for 3 years. Is there a way to report to the credit agency my on time payment status to boost my credit score?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Unfortunately no. We wrote about that in this story: Can You Force a Bank to Report to Credit Reporting Agencies?

      However, you may be able to use an alternative bureau like eCredable.com to help build credit with that information and other payments that aren’t reported.

    • Ann

      Greg, there actually is an entity that tracks your rental performance. It’s a compiled score of your rental history plus your credit score. The last time I rented an apartment (about 10 years ago now because I bought my own place and no longer need to rent), I had to sign all kinds of permissions to allow the apartment managers to run this check (the credit check). I must have done pretty well on the scoring, because they literally rang my phone off the hook letting me know I could move in any time. While it’s not a boost to your credit score, per se, it is a boost to a score that means a lot when renting an apartment. That being said, it’s more important than ever to follow your lease agreement and try to get the full deposit back. Their keeping the deposit to fix anything you left broken or dirty behind will result in a “ding” on your rental score.

  • Lori

    A few years ago, when applying for a home loan, I was denied because of my questioned identity. Several institutions had entered the correct ssn, but spelled my first name (Lori) in different ways (Laurie, Lorry, and Lorna) and a couple had my last name incorrect as well. I asked the bank if any of them had bad credit – the answer was ALL of the versions of me had scored above 770, but I still had to jump thru hoops for 3 months to get approved….

  • Nunya

    Three or four years ago I did go to AnnualCreditReport.com. That did me absolutely NO good at all. I NEVER heard from them!! Don’t waste your time with them.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      How strange. What happened? Did you request your reports but never received them? Did you ask for them by mail or online?

      • EricNDC

        Huh? When you go to the AnnualCreditReport.come website and put all your information in, they direct you to the three reporting agency websites and you can print them off at that time.

  • Jennifer

    Also, paying cash or charging only 10% of what you pay is the smartest way to keep your credit scores up. Credit companies want low balances below 33% of what your maximum is. And it allows you financial freedom, since you can usually pay off the balance, easily in poor economic times. I bought my car by putting 90% down and only financing 10% so that I balanced my credit. All my other cards have low balances. Cash is king in our house. Credit is only for financial standing.

    • Lachanda

      Great Idea

    • Ann

      Couldn’t agree more, Jennifer! I had, for years, fell into the family “trap” of using credit cards for all purchases, emergency money, etc. I read a great book called “Spent” that opened my eyes to all the psychology behind the use of money, an how our first impressions of money management can be so damaging if they are not good examples (mine weren’t). I clawed those credit debts down to zero and now practice a realistic savings plan so I have money to buy the things I want as well as an an emergency stash for bad days, but also keep using the credit cards sensibly (total utilization under 10%, paid in full every month) for credit-building purposes. It took some soul searching – and the realization that I am a good person because of who I am, not because of what I own or give.

  • Jennifer

    Raymond Thomas it sounds like what is on your credit scores from the past are student loans. If you were delinquent on them, they may leave them that way. That happened to me and I had to send letters to have them change it once I paid it off. It takes work, but you can have this removed. It appears to be the only thing that remains on your credit report after the legal 7 years, when other stuff is removed with time.

  • susan klaslo

    It seems to me these credit reporting people either don’t know what they are doing or are in kahots with the government to screw the people!

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  • http://msn Raymond Thomas

    i have things on my credit report that are over 50 years old. these bills were paid in full years ago even when i was a poor family man and had to charge to provide for my family. why have they not removed these old charges from my account? i do not owe money to anyone. i pay all my credit cards in full each month. i only have normal monthly bills that are paid in full each month. my daughter has a higher credit rating than i do. she also pays all her credit cards in full each month, she doesn’t have any old outstanding bills that are even 5 years old. why does she have a higher credit rating? i am glad she does. i do not have to wait for experian or the others to approve any of my purchases. i pay in cash! so experian and the other two can go to hell.

    • ECS

      “so experian and the other two can go to hell.” Amen!

  • John Stanley

    There is someone who currently lives at an address I used to live at for three months, nine years ago. He has the same first and last name as me, with a different middle name and obviously a different SS number and date of birth. Experian keeps picking up his bad credit and tax liens and assiging them to me. Trying to talk to anyone at Experian is impossible. I went through American Express Credit Aware and finally was able to talk to a customer service rep. She was little if any help. I have sent all the challenges to Experian and they have taken some of the info off, only to replace it with another tax lien and bad credit, because the do not cross reference the SS number and date of birth. What can I do? This has gone on for over a year.

    • joe noneya

      get a job at experian, and screw up their creidt too!

    • melissa

      First.. if you have already disputted these errors to the credit reporting agencies get yourself a good lawyer. One that specializes in the Fair credit reporting act.
      Make sure you have back up like CERTIFIED copies of the disputes that you have filed with the credit reporting companies.
      I have assisted my husband in a merged credit report for the last 7 years. Once they started taking away my husband’s GOOD credit we got a lawyer.
      My best advise document document document and get a specialied lawyer.
      The lawyer, if you have a case, should do it contingent on winning. From the sounds of it they may have violated some of your rights under the FCRA. (some pretty good reading to help you along) .

      • ECS

        There are no lawyers who would take a FICO dispute on contingency. A contingency feel is used ONLY when money will be recovered. If you care about the score PAY to have the letters written.

        • Rick

          Such a coincidence is impossible to believe; do you have any bridges for sale?

          • Reader

            Well, believe it. I have inaccurate items on my credit report from the same first/last name and address as well.

          • LucyBD

            I believe it, also. I have a friend who is a lawyer and had a client about 20 years ago who had the same name/DOB/very close SS# to someone who defaulted on an out-of-pocket open chest/heart surgery, and my friend’s client happen to have been admitted to this hospital 5 years before this not paid for surgery took place. Needless to say, credit report took a dive when a WELL into the 6-figure collection hit it.

            It literally got to the point in court that his client had to open his shirt and prove his chest had never been cut open.

            Silver lining – he got all fees and some restitution for cost incurred of having a 500 credit score until they got it all removed.

    • http://Yahoo Ravi Jain

      The credit companies report whatever is reported by the lender. You need to get after the lender only. Providing wrong information to the credit bureau is “LIBEL” and the remedies/penalties vary from state to state. You must have proper documentation available in order to pursue this matter.
      Last year, I was in a similar situation. I myself drafted a legal letter after doing research for the applicable laws. My case was resolved with the consumer/lender within three days. Of course, I have a formal law degree. Sorry, I am not an attorney, since I have not yet taken the bar examination.

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