How can I find out who I owe? I would like to know so that I can pay off my debt and clear up my credit.
If you've faced credit difficulties in the past and are unsure which of your accounts are currently outstanding, ordering a copy of your Experian credit report will be very helpful. Checking your credit report won't provide an exhaustive list, but can be place to start. The report lists all of your debts, the amount outstanding and provides contact information for your lenders.
Getting Your Experian Credit Report
By law, you are entitled to one free copy of your credit report per calendar year. The quickest way to get your free annual report is to order online at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can also get your free Experian credit report at any time with no credit card required.
Your credit report will list detailed information about each account that is reported to Experian. The report includes the business name and address and the balance on the account. Your credit report will also list any public record items, such as civil claim judgments or tax liens.
A Debt You Owe May Not Appear On Your Credit Report Right Away
Most major lenders report to Experian, but they are not required by law to do so. In some cases, a creditor may choose not to report an account to Experian directly, but they may later choose to sell the account to a collection agency that does. In that case, the collection account may appear on your credit report even though the original account does not. In most cases, the collection agency will list the original creditor as part of the account information.
A creditor may also choose to file suit against you in an attempt to recover the amount owed. Once a judgment is filed against you, it will become a matter of public record, and will most likely appear on your credit report. The judgment will list the name of the plaintiff along with the amount owed.
You May Owe a Debt That Does Not Appear on Your Report At All
Because creditors are not required to report their account information to Experian, your credit report may not be a complete list of every debt you owe. It's possible that you may have an outstanding debt that does not appear on your report.
Some creditors may choose to report to one or two of the three national credit reporting agencies. Therefore, just because a debt you owe isn't appearing on one credit report does not necessarily mean it isn't appearing on the others.
It's a good idea to order a copy of your report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies and then compare the information from each. If you do have a creditor that does not report to any of the credit reporting agencies, you will need to go over past bills and account statements or contact the company directly to determine what you owe.
It's also possible that a debt you still owe no longer appears on the credit report. Debts, including collection accounts, are deleted seven years from the original delinquency date of the debt. While the account may be deleted from the report, collection agencies may still be able to contact you to request that you repay the debt. Just because the debt is deleted from the credit report doesn't mean that you no longer can be legally responsible for repayment.
Thanks for asking,
The "Ask Experian" Team