PhotoIt can be one of life's more unpleasant circumstances. You get ready to purchase a car, a big screen TV, or other major purchase requiring credit, and the deal falls through.

The seller pulls your credit report and suddenly the deal is off. You might be embarrassed, or even angry, but the important thing to do is find out what was in your credit report that raised the red flag.

The Federal Reserve points out consumers have some rights in this area. For example, if you don't get a job or are turned down for insurance or credit of any type because of information in your credit report, you are entitled to know which credit bureau provided the information. Then, if you ask for it within 60 days, you can get a free copy of the report from the credit agency. This will not count against the free credit reports you are entitled to from all three agencies once a year.

Credit report can alter terms

Sometimes, a lender will not deny credit, but will offer less favorable terms than you expected, based on what he or she found in your credit history. The lender may give you a notice with information about the credit bureau that provided the credit report used to make the decision. Once again, the agency is required to provide you with a free copy of the report if you request it within 60 days.

Besides satisfying your curiosity, obtaining the document is a good idea. There is always the possibility that your credit report contains inaccurate information. There have been cases where portions of other consumers' credit histories have gotten mixed up in the wrong report.

Disputing incorrect information

When you find mistakes in your credit report, you are entitled to dispute the information and request that it be either deleted or corrected. To do that, you need to contact the credit bureau that issued the report or the company or person reporting the wrong information to the credit bureau.

The credit bureaus each have their own way of going about it. The process starts online at Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Once you dispute an item in your credit report, it must be investigated, usually within 30 days. Once the investigation is complete, you are entitled to a written report of what was found.

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