Month: August 2017

Why You Should Check All 3 of Your Credit Reports

rebuilding credit

Guest post from

Although the popular FICO credit score wasn’t introduced until 1989, consumer credit information has been collected and sold by various companies for over 100 years. These consumer reporting agencies are used by creditors large and small to make important lending decisions, including whether to approve a particular credit application.

Today, while your personal credit information is gathered, stored, and analyzed by a number of agencies, the landscape of consumer credit data is dominated by the three major bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Your credit scores are calculated based on the information provided by one (or all) of these three agencies, including the FICO credit scores used by most major creditors.

So, why three bureaus instead of one? The same reason we have multiple brands in nearly every industry: capitalism.

While consumer credit agencies are heavily regulated by government and law, the major bureaus aren’t actually government entities; they are private companies. This means each agency operates in its own way, with separate structures and business goals. The existence of each bureau as an individual company is also the reason why every consumer should regularly check all three of his or her credit reports, rather than limiting credit check-ups to a single report.

Creditors May Report to All Bureaus — Or Only One

Essentially, since the three bureaus are independent bodies, the credit report generated by each bureau may contain different information. Part of this disparity is due to the fact that each agency will have its own methods and partners for collecting information, including the purchase of public record information, such as tax liens and judgements.

More important — and more diverse — than the information sought by the agencies is the information actively reported to each agency by outside parties. Rather than hounding thousands of creditors for updated information on its millions of consumer profiles, credit bureaus rely on each company to report that information.

In fact, the vast majority of the data collected by the credit bureaus is actually reported to them by debt collectors and creditors, including banks, credit unions, credit card issuers, auto lenders, mortgage providers, and retailers. However, creditors are under no real obligation to report that information to any of the credit bureaus, let alone all three of them. This means you may have accounts that show up on a single credit report, but not the others — or on all but one.

This can be particularly important to those attempting to rebuild credit, such as after completing the credit repair process or undergoing a bankruptcy discharge, as only information actually reported to the bureaus will help build your credit. For example, credit cards for bad credit can help rebuild your credit when payments are reported to the credit bureaus, but not every issuer will automatically report to all three bureaus.

Creditors May Check Only One Report — Or All Three

Furthermore, it’s not only accurate data that can show up on some, none, or all of your credit reports; erroneous, outdated, and unsubstantiated information reported to the credit bureaus will show up, as well. And if you only check one credit report each year, you could have all kinds of misinformation on the two you neglect.

To make matters more convoluted, future creditors could use any of the data from any one of the bureaus — or two, or all three — to determine your creditworthiness. This means you have a better chance of a creditor pulling the two reports you don’t check than the one you do.

Put simply, maintaining all three of your credit reports is the only way to ensure that the credit information used by future lenders is accurate. At the very least, all consumers should review all three of their credit reports once a year, which can be done for free online at Contrary to popular belief, checking your own credit won’t hurt your credit score.

Additionally, any mistakes, such as spelling errors or fraudulent accounts, should be dealt with immediately by disputing the account with the credit bureaus. You can do this yourself, or you can hire an experienced credit repair company to handle the process on your behalf. has rated the best credit repair companies to help you get started with the process.

It’s especially important to perform regular checks of your own credit report while trying to rebuild credit, after credit repair or a bankruptcy discharge, or if you’ve been the victim of identity theft. Always double check that erroneous accounts have been properly removed and follow up with any necessary organizations to ensure the accuracy of your reports.

Learn how you can start repairing your credit here, and carry on the conversation on Lexington Law’s social media platforms. Like and follow on Facebook and leave a tweet on Twitter.

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3 Reasons Why Small Business Owners Should Care About Personal Credit

small business credit repair

Guest article from

Whether you own a small business already or are thinking about starting one, getting your personal credit score back in shape is extremely important. A solid credit repair plan can help you gain greater access to capital and decrease your overall expenses. Even if your business is thriving, you can limit future opportunities if your own credit is damaged. Ready to find out why exactly you need a solid credit score to be the best entrepreneur possible? Let’s get started.

#1: Keep Your Cash Flow Open

Cash flow is extremely important for a business of any age or size. Even if demand is high with large orders coming in consistently, you typically need the cash to finance the order before the invoice is paid by your customer. Depending on your industry, customers may not be willing to pay a deposit upfront to cover some of your costs. In order to successfully fill your orders, you need enough cash in your reserves to pay for the product or raw materials. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing large clients because you don’t have the scale to accommodate them

For short-term needs, a credit card is a great way to keep your cash flow going. Depending on your business structure, you can use a personal credit card, a business credit card, or even a line of credit. But unfortunately, you won’t get approved for any of these without a decent personal credit score. Even if you’re looking for a card designed specifically for businesses, creditors typically check on your individual credit. Improving your credit score enough to maintain an emergency business credit card can help you meet short-term cash flow needs that are vital to your company — for growth and for emergencies.

#2: Fuel Long-term Growth

It’s every small business owner’s dream to get to the point where their demand for products or services allows for growth and expansion. Maybe you want to add a second food truck to your operation, or hire extra sales staff to reach new regions. Large investments like these are rarely paid for using cash reserves. Instead, you’ll likely need a small business loan or line of credit.

Just like a credit card company, lenders use your personal credit score along with other factors to determine your creditworthiness as a business borrower. It may seem unfair, but it makes sense that the way you handle your personal finances could reflect how you handle those of your company. By improving for your own FICO score, you can open the door to greater opportunities for growth. It all starts with a few simple steps to credit repair. Even if you don’t plan on growing anytime soon, it’s best to start fixing your credit early in order to be adequately prepared.

#3: Pay Less on Interest

You probably know that the better personal credit score you have, the lower interest rates you receive on financial products like your credit card or mortgage. The same holds true for business financial products. Your personal score is tied to what kind of loan terms you receive. Since business loans typically come with higher interest rates paid over a shorter period of time, you can save a lot of money and increase your earnings by qualifying for a lower rate. The cost of bad credit can affect you in all parts of your life, including your business.

Not only that, a higher credit score can also help your eligibility for better financial products. So instead of paying a high interest rate on a product like invoice factoring or a short-term loan with daily payments, you have an increased chance of getting access to better terms on products that are designed to enable you, not hinder you with cumbersome payment terms. It’s always best to have the widest range of options available, and then cherry pick the one that suits your needs. The last thing you want to do is change your business plan to fit your financing. It should always be the other way around.

How can small business owners repair their credit?

Credit repair can be done in a number of different ways. There are plenty of steps you can do on your own, like pay your bills on time each month and reduce your personal debt. You can also dispute negative items that are lingering on your credit report and bringing down your score. If you’re unsure about doing this on your own, or don’t have enough free time after managing your company, then you can hire a reliable company like Lexington Law to work on your behalf.

Running a successful small business certainly takes expertise in your professional industry, but it also takes a bit of financial savvy. Fuel your company’s growth on your own terms by getting the best financial products available. When you have a great personal credit score, you show business lenders that you’ve got what it takes to responsibly manage your company. With just a bit of credit repair help, you’ll gain more flexibility to make the best decision for you and your business — when you need to.

Learn how you can start repairing your credit here, and carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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Credit Card Chips Can Fall Out—And into the Wrong Hands

rebuilding credit

Protecting your personal information is important to protecting and repairing your credit. Security risks are everywhere, including your wallet. By now, you probably now have a credit or debit card that uses a chip. Those chips, however, can fall out of the plastic card. An intact chip could be placed onto another card, allowing an unauthorized person to access the account or personal information. Consumers should be aware of this issue to protect their security and identity.

When it comes to security, losing a credit card chip is equivalent to losing the entire card itself. Glue holds the chip in place, and normal wear and tear can loosen the adhesive. In an extreme scenario, a thief could remove a card’s chip and replace it with a dummy chip. With the stolen chip, a thief could make purchases without raising suspicion. Recovering from credit card theft is a time consuming process. Depending on the extent of the damage, the effects could have a long-term impact on your credit, especially if an account becomes delinquent.

Tips to Protect Yourself

Security risks always exist, but you can take measures to protect yourself. Bankrate compiled five easy techniques for consumers to protect their accounts and information:

  • Set up mobile banking alerts for your phone from your financial institution. You can discover unusual activity as quickly as possible.
  • Regularly monitor your accounts online. Being familiar with your activity can help identify fraudulent transactions faster.
  • Avoid public computers. Do not log on to your email if your bank corresponds with you there. Set up a separate email account just for your finances and checking it from safe locations.
  • Avoid doing business with unfamiliar online companies. Stick to established merchants and websites.
  • If your information has been compromised, notify your financial institutions and local law enforcement. Remember to notify any of the three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

Lexington Law can help you monitor and repair your credit. You can learn more here, and carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.


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Should I co-sign my child’s credit card?

co-sign credit card

While putting a credit card in the hands of a high school or college student might seem like a risky proposition — especially if they don’t have a basic understanding of financial and credit management — doing so wisely can set them up for a sound financial future. Credit cards are great tools for teaching financial responsibility and building credit.

The Credit CARD Act of 2009 stipulates that credit card applicants under the age of 21 prove sufficient independent income or have a cosigner in order to open a credit card account. Since few teenagers and early twentysomethings are financially independent, they often rely on parents, guardians, or even older friends to help them secure a credit card.

As a parent, you have few options for helping your children establish a credit history with a credit card: co-sign their application, authorize them as a user on your credit card account, or help them get them a secured card backed by a cash deposit. All options leave you financially responsible in different ways.

Are you prepared to risk your credit?

Co-signing your child’s credit applications means leaving your credit report exposed to their credit behavior. Any late or missed payments will appear on your credit report. If your child is away at college and you can’t follow their payment history, you may not even know there’s a problem until you’re turned down for a new card or for a loan.

You also put your finances at risk by co-signing your child’s credit card application. In the event of delinquency, you could be liable for payment until the debt is satisfied. This worst-case scenario leaves you exposed to lawsuits, wage garnishment, and asset seizure. If it gets to that point, credit repair could help rectify or mitigate the effects of negative credit events.

Consider the credit alternatives

Instead co-signing a credit card application for your child, consider adding them as an authorized user on your account. This strategy allows you to keep track of their spending. Of course, adding an authorized user means you’re still responsible for making payments on the account, so you’d need to work out a payment process for any charges incurred by other users.

Alternatively, you could get your child a secured card. These no-frills, low-limit cards require a cash deposit to secure the card. These credit cards have low barriers to entry and are a great way for children to start their credit history. Citi, CapitalOne, and Discover all offer secured card options.

If you’ve left yourself exposed to your children’s less-than-stellar credit habits, or simply don’t want to burden them with your own poor credit history, consider credit repair services. Working with credit repair professionals can help you take control of your credit and put you on a path toward a better credit score. The attorneys at Lexington Law understand consumer protection laws and legal rights. They can work with you to ensure your credit reports remain fair and accurate.

Contact us for a credit repair consultation, including a complete review of your credit report summary and score. You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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3 Steps to Recover from Identity Theft

identity theft

Identity theft is a crime that can impact more than your finances. Like other forms of theft, identity theft robs your sense of security, trust, and peace of mind. It’s a personal violation that can affect your whole life.

But recovery from identity theft is possible. This three-step plan can help you regain control of your financial reputation and repair your credit.

1) Stop the Damage

Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. A fraud alert notifies lenders and creditors that your identity has been compromised. Often an identity thief will attempt to extend credit, and this flag will warn the credit bureaus to be on the watch for suspicious activity. The alert is active for 90 days and prevents any activity on your credit accounts.

You may also want to consider an extended fraud alert, which remains in effect for seven years. During that time you can get two free credit reports within 12 months, and your name will be removed from credit offer marketing lists for five years.

Call the police. Once you have determined that your identity has been stolen, file a report with the local police. Be prepared to provide as much evidence as possible, and request a copy of the report — creditors may ask for it.

Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). File an Identity Theft Affidavit and create an identity theft report. You can file the report online or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). This is only necessary if your identity has been stolen, but not if a single account was compromised.

2) Start Repairing

Review your credit report. By Federal law, you’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting companies. (See ) Review your reports closely for any accounts you didn’t initiate, or for new or fraudulent charges on other accounts. If you see errors or debts you don’t recognize, contact the credit reporting companies and the fraud department of each business reporting an error.

Keep a log. Record all of your phone calls, emails, and letters in a log. Include dates, names of people you spoke with, and phone numbers. Also keep track of the time and expenses you incur during the resolution of your identity theft — you can often deduct these expenses on your tax return.

3) Stay Protected

Protect your SSN. You should never carry your Social Security card with you or have your number written or stored anywhere that it could fall into the wrong hands. Never include it in an email, and never give it to anyone who doesn’t need it for tax or financial account purposes. Your SSN should never be used as a form of ID.

Sign up for free credit monitoring. Although credit monitoring cannot actively protect you from identity theft, it can alert you if there has been a data breach that affects your account. If someone attempts to open an account in your name, you’ll know about it. If you’re offered a free credit monitoring service, it can help give you some peace of mind. Partnering with a legal credit expert can help you not only leverage your legal credit rights, but can also offer a higher level of service and protection than many of the free credit services available. At Lexington Law, for example, our PremierPlus service level provides continuous fraud alerts to protect your credit health.

Identity theft is a traumatic experience, but it doesn’t have to permanently ruin your credit. You can start to fix your credit and take measures to protect yourself against future vulnerability by following these steps to recovery.

Carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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