(WHAS11) -- The time to review your credit report is before you get confronted with a red flag. Negative information stays on a credit report for seven years, and bankruptcies for up to ten. That information could influence the interest you pay on everything from credit cards to car loans. It could also influence whether you get those loans at all.
A new government report points to as many as 42 million Americans- that is one in five- with mistakes on their credit reports, with some errors that are serious enough to impact credit scores.
If you haven't looked in a while, your credit report includes current and previous addresses, credit accounts and any late or skipped payments. It also includes if you have ever been sued or arrested, and bankruptcy files.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles each consumer to an annual copy of his or her credit report from each of the three major reporting agencies. To maximize the benefits, stagger the three requests throughout the year.
Scan reports for things that could be dragging down your credit score. That can include open lines of credit that you are not using or thought you closed, addresses where you have never lived or that look suspicious and credit inquiries that you did not make.
If you find an error, start by contacting the consumer reporting company that compiled the report. They are required to investigate within 30 days.
If you have a consumer issue you'd like us to look into, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org