Glossary:

Creditworthiness: dependability; reliability; the extent to which an applicant is deserving of a lender's trust.

credit score: the numerical equivalent of your credit standing; there are two primary credit scoring models: FICO and Vantage.

payment patterns: your record of payments made over time. You may be the type of consumer who regularly misses payments, who occasionally misses payments, or who never misses payments. Whatever your past history may be, you should always make an effort to make all of your payments on time from this day forward.

TransUnion, Equifax, Experian: the three major credit-reporting agencies. They are also often referred to as credit bureaus. These agencies compile the credit histories reported to them by your original creditors. They also calculate your credit score and investigate errors on your credit report at your request.

TransUnion: (contact info)

  • TransUnion
  • Post Office Box 2000
  • Chester, PA 19022
  • (800) 888-4213
  • To initiate a dispute by phone: (800) 916-8800

Equifax: (contact info)

  • Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc
  • P.O. Box 740241
  • Atlanta, GA 30374
  • (800) 685-1111
  • To initiate a dispute:
  • Equifax Information Services LLC
  • P.O. Box 740256
  • Atlanta, GA 30374

Experian: (contact info)

  • 1-888-397-3742
  • (You must have a copy of your Experian report to initiate a dispute through them. The mailing address is on the report.)

status: The current standing of your account. It may be on-time, delinquent 30 days, delinquent 60 days, delinquent 90 days, inactive, paid as agreed, closed, etc.

information provider: the entity that reports your account status to the credit bureau. Almost all large businesses and merchants report your accounts with them to the credit bureaus (though not necessarily to all three). Not everyone with whom you do business will necessarily report the status of your account, though. For example, not all small-town doctors and landlords communicate with the credit bureaus. Such a decision is made at their discretion.

ID theft affidavit: a single form produced by the Federal Trade Commission that many businesses will accept in a dispute of new, unauthorized accounts, available at www.consumer.gov/idtheft/pdf/affidavit.pdf

collections: "in collections" is a phrase used to describe an unpaid account that your creditor considers a bad debt. Accounts that are in default are not necessarily sent to traditional collection agencies. Some companies prefer to use their own in-house collection departments (though some of these may go by another name) because collectors who are original creditors aren't bound by the same rules as third-party collectors.

revolving credit: an open-ended loan; credit cards are considered to be revolving credit because the amount of credit extended to you, represented as your credit limit, is re-extended as you make your payments on time every month.

secured credit card: a card that requires a cash deposit as collateral. The amount of the deposit becomes the credit limit for the account. For example, if you put $400 in the account, you can charge up to $400. You may be able to add to the deposit to raise the credit limit on the account. Some banks will agree to raise your limit without requesting additional deposits, as an incentive or reward for making your payments on time for a specific period of time.