Tightwaddery: Accessing Your Credit File

by Kelly Jo Landers

Do you know who is checking into your credit report? Any time someone looks at your credit history, a so - called inquiry appears on your credit report. This little - known item can cause trouble even for someone with a squeaky clean history otherwise.

Excessive inquiries can negatively effect your credit rating. This is how. If numerous inquiries appear on your credit history, other lenders may see them as possible creditors that denied you credit. Assuming that, you can be turned down for credit you want.

Numerous inquiries also make you look credit hungry, meaning you may be in financial trouble. Smart creditors avoid people already in trouble. Even if you get financing for an item, they may charge you a higher interest rate because you appear to be a risk. That can translate into some serious dollars, my friends.

Never give your name to a retailer or auto salesman until you are ready to buy. Simply having your name can allow them to look for your financial information. Even if you haven't tried to purchase anything, a peek at your rating can give them some idea of how much you can afford of what they are selling. This allows them to promote the most expensive item they now know you can afford. What's more, you needn't give your permission for someone to check your credit.

So called promotional inquiries are usually ignored whenever they appear. Promotional inquiries are inquiries prior to you receiving a solicitation. In most cases, potential creditors will ignore any inquiries not resulting in new credit after six months. All inquiries drop off of your report after two years.

While there is not currently any legal recourse against unauthorized inquiries, so long as the information is not used for a fraudulent purpose, that does not mean all those inquiries need to fill up your credit report. Request a copy of your credit report from Experian at 1-800-353-0809. (This is the only credit bureau that shows the complete address of those that have made an inquiry. The others list only the name.) Take a good look at the report. Some of the inquiries will be familiar to you.

The unfamiliar companies are the ones you want off of your history. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows only authorized inquiries to appear on a consumer credit report. Unfortunately, if you don't know they are there, there they will sit. You have to write to each of these companies and request they remove the inquiry from your report and that they not market to you.

If any of these companies should provide documentation that you authorized the credit inquiry, be sure to read a copy of it carefully. If there is any doubt on your part that you were authorizing them to look at your credit report, write back to them to complain about a deceptive or unclear authorization form. Threaten to contact your state's banking commission if the inquiry isn't removed, and mean it.

Some creditor's do a better job than others of answering complaints. Be sure to send each with return receipt requested. If you don't hear from them within thirty days of your letter, then the matter becomes one of lack of response to a consumer dispute. This puts the law on your side. Others may remove the inquiry as a basic courtesy. In any case, they will do nothing unless you initiate the review.

The theme is that Tightwaddery equals Freedom and Freedom equals Joy. Presented by Kelly Jo Landers.

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