Credit Reports

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Getting up nerve to check my credit score

Sept 2007

I have an unreasonable fear about checking my credit score! I honestly don't know if my credit is bad or good, and I have this huge mental block about learning the truth. Should I find a credit counselor? I hear that there are honest ones and profitmaking ones -- can you recommend anybody who can help me with this? Oakland maman

Fear not! Just keep stepping forward like you are and you'll make your way to clarity and power about your money. ... You can get a free credit report from all of the reporting agencies. Go to the Federal Trade Commission's website: for information and instructions. If you apply for your free reports online, you can pass on all of the features that cost money. ... Also click on the FTC's link ''Before you file for Personal Bankruptcy: Information about Credit Counseling'' for a good list of questions to ask credit counselors before you begin working with them. ... I also suggest that you check out Suze is deeply committed to educating and empowering women about money. ... Best wishes, Ann
First, check your credit report (this is a report, not a score) at (or . something, just be sure it's annual creditreport--there are lots of others that are not free, this one is free) This will give you the info held by the three main credit reporting companies; you can get a report from each of them for free once a year. Once you have this, you can see what ''blots'' you might have on your record, and even have a chance to correct any wrong information. Then, if you want, you can go ahead and see what your score is. It may not be as bad as you think, and you might as well know what almost everyone else in the world seems to be able to find out about you! A mom
Join our Credit Union: Kaiser Credit Union in downtown Oakland. The website is

When you become a Member we run your credit report with the score. This is how we know what services you are eligible to receive. We will then sit down with you, without judgment, and tell you your score. We'll tell you how you got that score, meaning how your available balance to outstanding balance, unpaid collections, debts paid late, etc. We will also tell you how to improve your score and what services you're eligible to have based on your score: those services are not only with our Credit Union, but what you could reasonably expect from other creditors.

We have English, Spanish and Tagalog speakers. You may schedule and appointment or drop in.

As a side note, we have had Members come in with poor credit scores (below 550) and improve them to good credit scores (nearly 700) over the course of working with the Credit Union. It's just a number - a number that you have control over. Credit Union Mom

I was scared of this too! I went to the Experian website and bought, I think, the $80 package. The website stinks and is hard to navigate, but you do get to talk to someone about making your score better, and I get a little email whenever it goes up (or down). I've watched it rise steadily over the past year and feel much better about it. Good luck.
As a mortgage/loan consultant, I deal with credit every day and have learned a lot about the subject. I counsel my clients all the time about this subject, and in many cases, I utilize a special tool which can show how your score can vary depending on how you carry your balances and when you pay them down.

Having/maintaining good/excellent credit is so important. It can make a huge difference on interest rates on your home, car financing, credit cards, etc., and it can make a difference when applying for a job. Employers often times run your credit (with your permission, of course), and it's true that low credit scores are often perceived to be indicative of more problems (lack of responsibility/self-discipline, etc.) and employers can and do consider this with job applicants.

It's extremely important that you know your score so you know where you stand, and most importantly, so that you can correct any errors, which always negatively impact scores (I've had clients with errors that negatively impacted their score by 80 - 100 points!)

Know that the more times your credit is run, the more your score can be dinged. However, self-inquiries do not hit/ding/impact your score, so if you're requesting the report yourself, you can self-inquire all you want knowing that your score won't be hit. But know that the **only** way your score is not impacted by an inquiry is with a self-inquiry. If any other entity (bank, store, mortgage person, credit agency, car dealership, etc.) runs your credit, your score can be impacted up to 10%. This is huge, especially if you are ''borderline'' in your score.

Also know that when you receive a credit card solicitation in the mail, your score is not impacted by this solicitation. However, if you accept the card, it likely will negatively impact your score (based on the credit scoring model for mortgages, which I won't go into). You can get a credit report at places such as, or learn about a free credit report (required by law) at

As far as credit counselors, I can't recommend anyone, but be extremely careful if you're going to use one. Many of them use questionable practices that artificially inflate scores (temporarily), and if any of them do run your credit, as stated above, it can significantly impact your score. Hope this helps!


If I cancel my credit cards, will that affect my score?

Sept 2007

Over the past decade or so I have carried balances on about 5 credit cards. Embarassing and dumb, yes. But, finally, I have paid them all off (Yeah!) Here the problem: I have heard that one should not cancel all credit cards right away because doing so can hurt your credit rating. I have read this in several reliable places. Now, when is it okay to start cancelling these cards? I don't want to keep them open forever. My husband and I now have a shared card that we pay off every month. Other than that, I don't want these other cards, but I don't want to hurt my credit rating either, which is actually pretty decent (my rating is a 800). Can anyone out there with solid information about the credit industry help me out with this? debt free at last

The information you've read is correct - you shouldn't cancel the cards if possible. Your credit score is basically calculated in terms of how much ''temptation'' you can handle. If you have $10,000 of available credit (measured in terms of your total available credit on all cards) that you handle responsibly, that doesn't look as good as if you have $60,000 worth of credit and are *still* being responsible.

I understand your need to want to cancel those cards so you can't get into trouble again, but instead, I would suggest canceling only those that carry annual fees. As for the rest, just cut up the *cards* and throw them away. Hide the account number from yourself in a place you can't access easily. Then you'll have the account, but you won't be able to easily get in trouble with it. Good luck

No matter how much you want to close your credit cards keep them open, (advice from Suzie Orman the financial guru). Also, use them at least once every six months or you will get a notice from the credit card company saying, ''due to inactivity your credit card has been canceled.'' This too will hurt your credit report. Again, keep those cards open to keep that amazing score! Good luck! amy s

Where To Get Credit Report Without Excess Charges

Feb 2006

Does anyone know where I can get a credit report where there are no hidden fees? Last time I signed up for something I noticed they tried to charge me extra for an some special check I didnt order..I'm in the process of trying to repair my credit and just want to know where I stand so far. Thanks! mimosagirl

Here's the site where you can get a free credit report once each year from the three major credit reporting companies. These companies are required by law to make your report available for free. They may try to induce you to buy extras, but the basic report is free. Got Mine Here
Hi - The law entitles you to one free copy of your credit report per year. You can go to to get copies from the three big credit bureaus (Experian, Transunion & Equifax). Otherwise, you are only entitled to a copy of your credit report if you are turned down for a credit card, loan, etc. Good luck! Anonymous

Service to remove blemishes from your credit report?

Jan 2004

I have heard there are services one can use or programs you can go through to have 'blemishes' on your credit report removed. Has anyone ever used one of these services? I'm interested in hearing brief details of whether or not it worked (were the items removed and did it enable you to establish lines of credit afterward), how much should I expect to pay for this service, and how long does it typically take? I didn't see any previous posts that directly address this issue, so I thank you in advance for any help you can offer. rmb

You shouldn't pay for a ''credit fix''. Companies claiming to repair your credit can only remove items which are incorrect or have ''dated out'' already, you can do this for free. If you want assistance with credit counseling and/or debt management, help with correcting errors, great general information and classes on repairing your credit (Credit CPR) check out Consumer Credit Counseling of the East Bay . They are non-profit and all classes and services are low-cost or FREE. Rachel
Beware of these kinds of services. I am a consumer attorney and know a thing or two about them. On the whole, they are usually unnecessary, and are often a scam. If what you want to do is to remove items from your credit report that are INACCURATE, you have a legal right to dispute those items with the credit bureau directly. Once you file a written dispute, the credit bureau has a legal obligation to investigate your claims, and send you a response. If you find their response inadequate, you can pursue the matter further, either by additional advocacy on your own behalf, or by contacting a lawyer and seeking assistance. A creditor that continues to provide inaccurate information to a credit bureau, even after notified of your dispute, can be liable to you for damages. These statutes, that create claims against the credit bureuas and creditors for inaccurate credit reporting, provide for awards of attorneys' fees, so if you have a good claim, you might be able to find a lawyer to represent you for free. If, on the other hand, what you are hoping to do is to remove items from your credit report that are, in fact, ACCURATE, you have no legal right to do so, and a service that claims it can accomplish this for you is probably a scam. The law requires that derogatory credit information drop off your credit report after 7 years (10 years for a bankruptcy). If you have something like this on your credit report, you will probably just have to wait for it to go away. Finally, there are ways to improve your credit score even if the information on your credit report is basically accurate. For example, it might improve your score to transfer some balances to other credit cards and cancel some cards, so as to reduce your overall available credit. I have heard that there are now some relatively new services that will advise you about how to do this. Some of these services may be reputable, and if you are trying to buy a house, for example, it might be worth your money to pay for a brief consultation. In order to provide good advice, though, the person must be very knowledgeable about how credit scoring works, i.e., it must be someone with direct experience in the credit industry. An outsider or lay person is not going to know enough about the intracacies of the system to be helpful. Consumer Lawyer

How to get negative marks off Chek Systems?

Jan 2003

I would like to inquire about banking and being on Chek Systems. My partner has spent the past year cleaning up his credit report and paying off past collections - after years eluding debt and irresponsible money behavior.

He is currently trying to get two negative marks removed from Chek Systems (after paying his debt and calling and pleading with the company to remove him). He has not had any luck with being removed from Chek Systems and as a result cannot obtain a bank account.

My questions are: Has anyone had similar experiences with being on Chek Systems? Is it legal for these marks to remain indefinately, even after the debt has been paid?

How does one obtain a bank - checking and savings account while having these negative marks on Chek Systems?? He desperately needs a bank acct! Any help, suggestions, insights appreciated.

Thanks! anonymous please

from what I've experienced, once you are on chek systems you stay there for five years even though you've paid your dues. after the five years your name magically disappears but I have no experience with that, it's just what the chek system man said. but your husband can still get a bank account by obtaining a letter written to chek system from the places that reported him saying that he doesn't owe them anything. with these letters he *should* be able to open a bank account. good luck!!!
My husband works as a banker. He says that information stays on check systems for five years. The only time the reports are removed before that is if the institution that made the report requests it. Usually banks won't remove their reports unless they caused the problem. Not all financial institutions use check systems, try smaller banks and/or credit unions. Some banks will still allow you to open an account, even with a check systems record, as long as it is paid off. Good luck. Rose