Once you begin building a credit history, your credit reports are always in flux. They contain a wealth of information about your credit, including the current status of your accounts. Sometimes the changes made to your credit reports are accurate. Other times, they are in error. For instance, if you have an account that went into collection status and was sold to another company, your credit may reflect that you have two open accounts with the same amount of debt — otherwise known as "phantom money." Be proactive and monitor your credit reports regularly.
Order a copy of all three of your credit reports from the three main credit reporting agencies — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. The Federal Trade Commission has approved AnnualCreditReport.com as the "go-to" resource for consumers to get one free copy of each of their credit reports once a year. If you live in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Colorado, Vermont or Maine, you are eligible to receive two free credit reports from each bureau per year. If you reside in the state of Georgia, you can retrieve your reports a whopping three times per year. Once you register your personal information on the website, you can see complete credit reports from each of the credit bureaus.
Look at one of the reports. At the top is the identification section, which lists your personal information such as full name, current address, date of birth and Social Security number. Underneath the identification section is the section that details your credit history. This is the section where you will find the status of each account listed on the report.
Look at each account listed on the credit report and take note of its status. The status will state if the account is open, closed or in collection status. Highlight or make a separate list of your open accounts for future reference.
Confirm if each account listed as open is accurate. If an account is no longer open, but it is listed as "open" on your credit report, have it corrected. Your credit report needs to be accurate.
- Different credit agencies may have different information on their reports. Always view all three.
- If you find an account that's listed as closed, but should be open, or vice versa, contact the credit bureau first. The credit bureau may advise you to contact the creditor. Be aware that having items corrected on your credit report can take time.
Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.