Commonly Asked Questions

What Information is Included in My Report?

Your personal credit report contains:
o Federal district bankruptcy records and state and county court records of tax liens and monetary judgments. This information comes from public records.
o Specific information about each account, such as the date opened, credit limit or loan amount, balance, monthly payment and payment pattern during the past several years. This information comes from companies that do business with you.
o The names of those who have obtained a copy of your credit report. (On your copy of your Experian credit report, addresses are included.) This information comes from the credit reporting agency.
o Your name, current and previous addresses, phone number, Social Security number, date of birth, and current and previous employers. Your spouse’s name may appear on your version of the credit report, but it will not appear on the version that is provided to others. This information comes in part from your credit applications, so its accuracy depends on your filling out the forms clearly, completely and consistently each time you apply for credit.
o Statements of dispute, which allow both consumers and creditors to report the factual history of an account. Statements of dispute are added after a consumer officially disputes the status of an account, the account has been reinvestigated, and the consumer and creditor cannot agree about the account status. Both the consumer’s and creditor’s statements of the account status will appear on the credit report.

How Often Should I Check My Credit Report?

Your credit history plays a major role when you apply for any type of credit or loan, such as a credit card, auto loan, mortgage, employment screening, utilities deposits and insurance. It is a good idea to know what is included in your credit history before applying for credit or a loan. Creditors and lenders use your credit history to determine if you are a credit risk. The most important thing you can do to demonstrate you are a good credit risk is to pay your bills on time.

What About The Death of A Spouse?

If you’ve lost a spouse, you’re already going through one of the most emotionally draining experiences possible. When a loved one dies, there are also numerous financial matters to deal with, including credit and debt issues. There are, however, some simple steps you can take now to help down the road.
Stabilizing your credit in the event of a death can be difficult, especially if your spouse held all of the credit in his or her name. Keep in mind that in community property states, credit accounts opened during marriage are automatically joint. That means you are still responsible for any debt that your deceased spouse incurred.
By law, a creditor cannot automatically close a joint account or change the terms because of the death of one spouse. Generally, the creditor will ask the survivor to file a new credit application in his or her own name. After reviewing the new information, the creditor will then decide to continue to extend credit or alter the credit limit. You might want to open a new credit account in your name. In doing so, keep in mind that you must use your name only when applying. Including your deceased spouse’s name will result in a joint account. Experian automatically updates its records with periodic reports from the Social Security Administration. When the update is made, your spouse’s credit history will be flagged to show that he or she has passed away and their name will be removed from any preapproved credit offer mailing lists.

How Does Bankruptcy Effect My Credit?

One of the great myths about bankruptcy is that it erases bad credit history. It doesn’t. Declaring bankruptcy frees you from paying all or part of the debt you owe. Accounts will be updated in your credit report to show “included in bankruptcy.” However, the accounts will not be deleted from your credit report. Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains on your credit history for seven years. Chapters 7 and 11 are reported for 10 years.
Credit accounts may be deleted at different times depending on their status prior to being included in bankruptcy. Bankruptcy isn’t an easy way to escape a bad credit history. It doesn’t erase your credit report so you can start over with a clean slate. It does stop collectors from calling, but creditors stop calling, too.

Is All Bankruptcy Information Removed After 7 Years?

A chapter 13 bankruptcy court filing will remain on your credit report for seven years from the filing date. That applies only to the public record item, not the accounts included in the bankruptcy.
However, accounts included in the bankruptcy typically are deleted before the public record item. In most instances, accounts included in the bankruptcy are already delinquent before the bankruptcy filing. The original delinquency date of the account is, therefore, earlier than the bankruptcy filing date.
Because accounts are deleted seven years after the original delinquency date, the accounts will likely be deleted prior to the bankruptcy public record. If the accounts included in the bankruptcy were not delinquent when you filed, the accounts will be deleted at the same time as the bankruptcy public record.
The seven year rule also is true for accounts included in chapter 7 bankruptcy, but the bankruptcy public record will remain 10 years from the filing date.