February 4th, 2013
Why Don’t I Have a Credit Report?
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This is a great question, and one that can definitely be confusing.
There are likely two reasons why you might have a hard time getting a credit report. The best-case scenario is easily fixed, while the worst-case scenario will take some time to remedy.
And there’s a weird-case scenario that could prevent you from pulling a credit report, too. We’ll get to that one at the end.
Best-Case: The information on your report is different or wrong.
When you try to get a copy of your credit report online, you have to enter information like your name, date of birth, mailing address and social security number. This information is used by the credit bureaus to help match you with your credit report.
If you’ve moved several times or changed your name, it can be difficult for the credit bureau to locate the correct report for you. Plus, credit reports can contain errors. If your name or address is misspelled on your credit report, the credit bureau may not have been able to find it.
What you can do: Try once again to get your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com from the same credit bureau you’ve attempted before. When filling out your personal information, use things like your former name(s) and address(es). If that doesn’t work, try with a different credit bureau. The three main credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
You can also check your credit score through Credit Karma, which uses the same type of process to match you with your TransUnion credit report. If this strategy doesn’t work, then keep reading.
Worst-Case: You’ve never opened a credit account.
Not everyone has a credit report. Credit reports document your history as a borrower. You don’t have one until you’ve opened your first credit account—when you first became a borrower. If you’ve never had a credit card, auto loan, mortgage, student loan, personal loan or other line of credit, you won’t have a credit report at all.
Also, if your credit lines don’t report to one or more credit bureaus, then you won’t have a credit report with those bureaus. For instance, if your one credit card reports only to the credit bureau Equifax, then you will have a credit report there, but you won’t with Experian or TransUnion. While you could ask your creditor to report to all three bureaus, they might not honor your request.
What you can do: It can be difficult for you to gain access to credit if you don’t have any to begin with. If you don’t plan on borrowing in the future, you might not need to worry. But if you someday hope to apply for a mortgage or auto loan (or any other line of credit), you should start building credit now.
A good place to start is with a secured credit card. This type of card typically doesn’t require a credit check and is backed by a security deposit from you. It reports to the credit bureaus and can eventually be converted into an unsecured credit card. The one catch? Secured credit cards come sometimes come with an annual fee, so do your research before you apply.
Weird-Case: The bureau thinks you’re dead.
Credit bureaus can make mistakes and think a perfectly healthy—and alive—person is dead. Typically, when an individual passes away, the executor of the estate will notify the three bureaus to keep anyone from accessing the deceased’s credit report or score. Another way credit bureaus mark individuals as “deceased” is by reviewing newspaper and online obituaries and updating their records.
When this occurs in error on your credit report, it could mean a lengthy correction process. It’ll probably also keep you from obtaining credit in the meantime.
What you can do: First of all pull copies of all three credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. It should be clear from your reports if all three are claiming you’re dead or just one or two. You only need to dispute the error with the bureau (or bureaus) reporting it. First, find out if the Social Security Administration was responsible for reporting your death. You might be able to get some helpful documentation from them. Follow the guide in 5 Steps to Cleaning Up Credit Report Errors to dispute the mistake.
Bethy Hardeman is the Social Media Manager and Writer at Credit Karma, where she’s been since February 2011. When she’s not writing about credit and finance all over the web, you can find her playing her guitar, catching the latest movie, training for her next race or just exploring the city of San Francisco. Say “Hi” on Twitter: @bhardeman.
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