You and Your Credit

Should I utilize “credit counselors” or “debt relief” agencies?

If you decide to do this, check them out before signing up. Check with your local Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau. Many of these outfits are not out to help you, and can result in a worsening of your situation. Remember that a label of “non-profit” is no guarantee of a company’s integrity.

Important Contacts

What is a Credit Report?

A Credit Report is a record of your consumer and other transactions which are relevant to your orthiness as a potential borrower of money. It contains information about accounts which are in your name, the se you make of them, and your payment on those accounts. It also includes records of any bankruptcy filing and criminal convictions.

Who maintains my credit reports?

Three major credit bureaus keep these records. They are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Contact information for these bureaus is included in the “Important Contacts” section of this brochure.

Can I have access to my credit report?

Yes, you can, and you should check the reports regularly. They are available at no cost once a year*, and must be requested at the authorized service:

Annual Credit Report Request Service

PO Box 105281

Atlanta, GA 30349-5281

Phone: 877-322-8228

(* Laws regarding access vary from state to state, based on your state of residency. If you have been the victim of identity theft, you are allowed additional free reports during the year. Check the website for more information.)

Who else has access to my credit report?

Typically, government agencies, commercial creditors, insurance companies, and landlords are able to access your credit report. Employers may as well, but must have your consent.

What is a Credit Score?

A Credit Score is a numerical rating of your credit-worthiness. The numbers run from 350 to 900; anything over 700 is considered a good score. The numbers are calculated by considering a variety of factors, which include your payment history on accounts, amounts owed on them, available credit, the length of your credit history, and the presence of old and newer accounts.
Obviously a steady payment history and existence of available credit are good for your score. A flurry of new accounts can raise red flags to future lenders and tends to lower scores. More information about credit scores can be found at or at 800-319-4433.

How can I maintain a good Credit Score?

Preventing a problem with your score and Credit Report is much easier than trying to improve a bad score or report. The key to success is staying within your means.

  • Do not borrow money you cannot afford to pay back.
  • Open all your mail, even if it looks like junk mail.
  • Check billing statements carefully to be sure they are accurate.
  • Check your credit report annually, and more frequently if there seems to be a problem with it.

How can I improve my Credit Score?

Always pay your bills on time, and keep low balances. Check your credit report for errors, and if you find them, report them to the Credit Bureaus and also to the original creditors. Keep an eye on your credit report.

How long do entries remain on my Credit Report?

This varies. For accounts which have been “charged off”, or put into collections, records are kept for seven (7) years. This is also true of judgments, arrest records, and paid tax liens. A bankruptcy will stay on your record for ten (10) years. A criminal conviction remains on your report forever, and so does positive information.