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Credit Reporting Agencies Can’t List That, Can They?

If you’ve ever looked at your credit report, you’ve had that moment when you feel vaguely violated. Someone’s been peeking in your sock drawer, finding every little secret and trotting it out for the world to see.

Credit reporting agencies can’t list that on your credit report … can they?

The answer may surprise you. I know I was a little taken aback when I found out about what your credit report could legally contain.

For the most part, thecredit reporting agencies can gather pretty much any information that’s accurate and not obsolete.

There are some federal and certain state laws that restrict what can be placed in your credit report. The most significant limits are on information over seven years old, certain debts in dispute and debts of active military personnel in certain circumstances. Reporting and using medical information on your credit report is restricted as well.

Keep Your Information To Yourself

Credit reporting agencies should list only your information in your credit report – not anything pertaining to your spouse or relatives. I’ve seen this problem arise a number of times over the years, especially in situations where a father and son have the same name.

Junior and Senior often have when we call, “merged files,” and it’s a painstaking process to untangle the proverbial knots. As much of a hassle as it can be, however, it’s best to correct the errors before they harm your score.

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Will

Most people worry that the credit reporting agency is going to go around reporting every facet of your life, but that’s not true. Nobody cares about your shoe size, for example.

Credit reporting agencies usually collect only certain types of information and not others. That’s why you’re likely to see only particular types of information on your major credit reports. The specialty credit reporting agencies will cull other, more focused types of information.

In the end, bear in mind that credit reporting agencies provide information to entities with a specific need, and only under certain circumstances. If you look at your report and something’s incorrect or too old then give me a call; in the absence of an inaccuracy or obsolete data, move along and keep on living your life.

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By |August 7th, 2012|

About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.
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