Getting and Reading your Credit Reports


At we will obtain your credit reports for you free when your case is filed. 

Can I get a free copy of my own credit report?

You may obtain a free copy of all three major credit reports at

As of Jan 1, 2004, due to the new Fair Credit Reporting Act of 2003, all credit bureaus will be required to give out one free credit report per year.  Note: The Credit Bureaus are not required to give out your credit score for free. If you want to order your score in addition to your free report, most are charging about $5.95. The free reports are good for 30 days only, so make sure you print your reports if you get them online. Click here to Fix Mistakes in your Credit Report

You can order your free annual credit report online at, by calling 877-322-8228, or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

When you order, you need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. To verify your identity, you may need to provide some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment.

What if I've already gotten my free report for the year?

If you wish to order more than one report in a year's time, most credit reporting agencies will charge you $9.00 for the report and $12.95 if you want to see your score included.

There are exceptions to this one-per-consumer-per-year rule.

  • If you are turned down for credit, employment, or insurance within the last 60 days. Mail a copy of the written proof of your turn down to the credit bureaus, requesting your free report.
  • If you were charged higher rates and fees or deposits based on a credit report issued by a credit bureau, you have the right to get a free copy from that bureau
  • If you certify in writing that either you are unemployed and plan to seek employment in the next 60 days
  • If you are on welfare
  • If you write to say you were a victim of fraud

If you are too impatient to wait for this, you can always order your credit report online:


Help! What are all those codes on my credit report?
A separate key or explanation should be included with the report you receive. Sit down and spend some time with it. If you gave it an honest try and it still seems like Sanskrit, you might ask a trusted friend to go over it with you. Or someone in your personnel office at work, or the dean of students office at your school, or behind the railing at your bank, might be willing to help you. (It's not their job to do this, so remember that you're asking a favor. You may be charged a fee.)

What are "inquiries" on my credit report?
Whenever you or anyone else asks for a copy of your credit report, the request is supposed to be noted as part of your credit history. If you apply for lots of credit cards in a short time, this will produce a flurry of "inquiry" notes on your credit report. Lenders often turn this around and assume that a flurry of inquiries means you've recently applied for lots of credit, so they turn you down on that basis even though the inference is not strictly valid.

If a lender cites "excessive inquiries" as a reason for turning you down, this is what has happened. The lender has guidelines for how many inquiries in what period of time is too many. Unfortunately, you have no legal right to challenge this policy or even to know what the specific criteria may be.

Don't give your name or address to a merchant until you're actually ready to apply for credit there. Some merchants illegally run credit checks on you as soon as they have your name and address, even though you have not applied for credit, to give them an idea of what to sell you and how. (I'm told many car dealers do this.)

I don't know what legal recourse, if any, you have against unauthorized inquiries.

If lender A sees inquiries from B, C, and D but no new accounts, A may assume that B, C, and D turned you down for credit. Figuring "better safe than sorry," A may then turn you down just because it assumes B, C, and D turned you down. Again, this is a judgment call on the part of A, and you have no legal right to challenge it. If you have not applied for any credit recently but have been, say, looking at cars at several dealerships, you might want to let the lender know this in case it's taking unauthorized inquiries into account

Can you provide any information on profit and loss charge offs? I would like to know how charge offs affect my credit report. Are they debts I need to deal with? And how do they look to companies that are checking my credit history.
Profit and loss charge offs are used most often by credit card companies and are reported to the credit bureaus. They write the debt off on their books as un-collectable rather than spending time and lawyer's fees to collect them. Charge offs are considered a serious black mark on your credit report. Only bankruptcy and foreclosure are worse.

However, even if these companies aren't actively trying to collect from you, these debts are still owed by you to the company. If you refinance your house or apply for a loan, most mortgage companies will make you pay off these debts. The reason is that these debts can be turned into a lien against your property.

Liens matter to a mortgage company for a couple of reasons:

When you sell your home, the monies owed against a lien (plus interest) must be paid off to clear your title.

Liens are in a higher position than a mortgage, meaning they get paid off before the mortgage company gets its money. If the mortgage company has to foreclose and you have lots of liens on your home plus a mortgage, the mortgage company potentially could lose thousands of dollars.

Just because these debts are charged off doesn't mean that the creditor won't come after you later. Creditors have the right to sue you and win a judgment in court until the statute of limitations runs out.

If you're never going to buy a home, or at least not for 7 more years (that's when the profit and losses will drop off your credit report), having charge offs on your credit history may not be quite as serious. If you buy a car, or anything other than real estate, you won't be asked to pay these debts off. But your credit will really stink for a long time...good luck getting a low interest rate car loan! Again, charge offs are almost as bad as having a bankruptcy on your credit history, plus you still owe the money.

If you need to get charge offs removed from your credit report, you can:

Pay them off or file Bankruptcy. See Detroit Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Consumer Bankruptcy Filings.

Bankruptcy may not be a bad option if the debts are out of hand. If you keep your credit clean and open three new charge accounts (even gas cards), you can get an A paper (the best rates and terms) loan in 2 years.

Use These Numbers to Order Reports:

  • Equifax 1-800-685-1111 This one lets you get a free report if you have been denied credit in the last 60 days. Option 2. Make sure that you order only the credit report. Mail within 48 hours.
  • TransUnion - 800-916-8800 - mail within 6 to 8 business days.
  • Experian - 888-397-3742 - receive within 8 to 10 business days.

Caution: if your phone request gets lost, you'll have to write anyway. If your letter is later than 30 days after you were denied credit, employment, or insurance, you might have to pay for the report. It would be a good idea to mention in your letter the date that you requested the report by phone. Equifax also requests that you follow up your phone order with a written request containing proof of address, your driver's license, name, date of birth and SSN.

Use for Disputes on Credit Reports:

PO Box 9556
Allen TX 75013

Equifax Information Services
P O BOX 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374

Customer Disclosure Center
Trans Union Consumer Relations
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000

Via the World Wide Web




Contact me, bankruptcy attorney Walter Metzen to learn more about how the new Chapter 7 bankruptcy law may affect your case. I offer a free initial consultation so we can discuss your case personally.

We are a Debt Relief Agency helping people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. Let us help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you.

Bankruptcy attorney Walter Metzen represents clients throughout Southeast Michigan, including the communities of Detroit, Southfield, Warren, Roseville, Farmington Hills, Ann Arbor, Belleville, Canton, Clinton Township, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Holland, Howell, Lincoln Park, Livonia, Macomb, Northville, Plymouth, Port Huron, Redford, Rochester, Saginaw, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Taylor, Trenton, Troy, Westland, Wyandotte, Ypsilanti, Mount Clemens, Howell, Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, Washtenaw County, Livingston County, and all of the surrounding areas.
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