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Using your credit report to compile a complete list of your creditors and debts

Dear Experian,

How do I find out what I really owe and if any creditor will settle for less if I can pay off the balance? Can I get a list of all my creditors from you?

- CYD

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Difference between “balance-to-limit ratio” and “debt-to-income” ratio

Dear Experian,

What is the appropriate balance-to-limit or debt-to-income ratio? I do not maintain a balance on my credit cards but worry that I have credit limits that are too high and could impact my overall credit.

- TBL

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Collection accounts are not removed immediately after being paid in full

Dear Experian,

If you have a derogatory record on your credit report from a collection agency and you pay off the debt in full, will the debt be taken off of your report sooner? Or do you still have to wait the seven years?

- MSK

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You must submit request in writing to permanently opt out of receiving prescreened offers

Dear Experian,

I received a letter from Experian today regarding permanently removing my name from pre-approved credit offer mailing lists. The letter is requesting name, Social Security number, current address, and previous address. I would like to permanently remove my name, but I am not sure that this letter is legitimate. Can you please confirm?

- SBA

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Security freezes are not shared among the national credit reporting companies

Dear Experian,

Does placing a security freeze at one credit agency extend to all three credit agencies like a fraud alert?

- SCB

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Establishing credit before going to college

Dear Experian,

I am a 19 year old college student trying to establish credit early, and it would be helpful throughout college to have a low limit credit card just in case. Also, I am trying to get a car loan, and I know I need to use credit to gain credit. I applied for a credit card through my bank and was declined. I also applied for a student credit card and was declined again. How am I supposed to establish a credit history if I can’t get approved for anything? My parents are just starting to rebuild their credit themselves. Is there any way that I can establish credit without having to have somebody cosign for me?

- FCS

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Requesting a security freeze for a minor child’s credit report

Dear Experian,

I’m concerned that someone may use my minor child’s identification information fraudulently and I want to take precautions. How can I request a security freeze on a minor’s credit file?

- SRD

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The meaning of “key derogatory” as a credit score factor

Dear Experian,

What does “Key Derogatory” mean?

- RTC

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How to request a credit report if you are incarcerated

Dear Experian,

How does an inmate go about getting a credit report? Where can he get the proper forms to fill out without access to the internet?

- NTP

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Beware of calls offering marketing opt out

Dear Readers, Consumers have reported receiving automated calls asking for their Social Security numbers and other personal information in order to opt out of marketing mailing lists. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers […]

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