Your credit history is important to a lot of people: mortgage lenders, banks, utility companies, prospective employers, and more. So it’s especially important that you understand your credit report, credit score, and the companies that compile that information, credit bureaus. This brochure provides answers to some of the most common, and most important, questions about credit.
Your Credit Report
What is a credit report?
A credit report is a record of your credit history that includes information about:
Your identity. Your name, address, full or partial Social Security number, date of birth, and possibly employment information.
Your existing credit. Information about credit that you have, such as your credit card accounts, mortgages, car loans, and student loans. It may also include the terms of your credit, how much you owe your creditors, and your history of making payments.
Your public record. Information about any court judgments against you, any tax liens against your property, or whether you have filed for bankruptcy.
Inquiries about you. A list of companies or persons who recently requested a copy of your report.
Why is a credit report important?
Your credit report is important because lenders, insurers, employers, and others may obtain your credit report from credit bureaus to assess how you manage financial responsibilities. For example:
Lenders may use your credit report information to decide whether you can get a loan and the terms you get for a loan (for example, the interest rate they will charge you).
Insurance companies may use the information to decide whether you can get insurance and to set the rates you will pay.
Employers may use your credit report, if you give them permission to do so, to decide whether to hire you.
Telephone and utility companies may use information in your credit report to decide whether to provide services to you.
Landlords may use the information to determine whether to rent an apartment to you.
Who collects and reports credit information about me?
There are three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—that gather and maintain the information about you that is included in your credit report. The credit bureaus then provide this information in the form of a credit report to companies or persons that request it, such as lenders from whom you are seeking credit.
Where do credit bureaus get their information?
A: Credit bureaus get information from your creditors, such as a bank, credit card issuer, or auto finance company. They also get information about you from public records, such as property or court records. Each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, so the information in one credit bureau’s report may not be the same as the information in another credit bureau’s report.
How can I get a free copy of my credit report?
You can get one free credit report every twelve months from each of the nationwide credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—by
You will need to provide certain information to access your report, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.
You can order one, two, or all three reports at the same time, or you can request these reports at various times throughout the year. The option you choose will depend on the goal of your review. A report generated by one of the three major credit bureaus may not contain all of the information pertaining to your credit history. Therefore, if you want a complete view of your credit record at a particular moment, you should examine your report from each bureau at the same time. However, if you wish to detect any errors and monitor changes in your credit profile over time, you may wish to review a single credit report every four months.
Who else is allowed to see my credit report?
Because credit reports contain sensitive personal information, access to them is limited. Credit bureaus can provide credit reports only to
lenders from whom you are seeking credit;
lenders that have granted you credit;
telephone, cell phone, and utility companies that may provide services to you;
your employer or prospective employer, but only if you agree;
insurance companies that have issued or may issue an insurance policy for you;
government agencies reviewing your financial status for government benefits; and
anyone else with a legitimate business need for the information, such as a potential landlord or a bank at which you are opening a checking account.
Credit bureaus also furnish reports if required by court orders or federal grand jury subpoenas. Upon your written request, they will also issue your report to a third party.
Does the credit bureau decide whether to grant me credit?
No, credit bureaus do not make credit decisions. They provide credit reports to lenders who decide whether to grant you credit.
How long does negative information, such as late payments, stay on my credit report?
Generally, negative credit information stays on your credit report for seven years. If you have filed for personal bankruptcy, that fact stays on your report for ten years. Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer. Information about criminal convictions may stay on your credit report indefinitely.
What can I do if I am denied credit, insurance, or employment because of something in my credit report? What can I do if I receive less favorable credit terms than other consumers because of something in my credit report?
If you are denied credit, insurance, or employment—or some other adverse action is taken against you, such as lowering your credit limit on credit card account—because of information in your credit report, the lender, insurance company, or employer must notify you and provide you with the name, address, and phone number of the credit bureau that provided the credit report used to make the decision. You can get a free credit report from this credit bureau if you request it within sixty days after receiving the notice. This free report is in addition to your annual free report.
In addition, lenders may use a credit report to set the terms of credit they offer you. If a lender offers you terms less favorable (for example, a higher rate) than the terms offered to consumers with better credit histories based on the information in your credit report, the lender may give you a notice with information about the credit bureau that provided the credit report used to make the decision. Again, you can get a free credit report (in addition to your annual free report) from this credit bureau if you request it within sixty days after receiving the notice.
If you receive one of these notices, it’s a good idea to get your free credit report and review the information in it right away. If you think your credit report contains inaccurate or incomplete information, follow the steps in Credit Report Errors below, to try to resolve the issue. For tips on how to improve your chances of being granted credit, or to improve your chances of receiving credit on better terms, read the Federal Reserve’s 5 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score (available online at https://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/creditscore/creditscoretips_2.pdf).
I’ve been receiving unsolicited credit offers. Why? Can I opt-out of receiving these offers?
Credit bureaus may sell the names and addresses of consumers who meet specific credit criteria to creditors or insurers, who must then offer them credit or insurance. For example, a creditor could request from a credit bureau the names and addresses of consumers who have a credit score of 680 or higher and then offer credit to those consumers. You can have your name and address removed from these lists by opting-out of the listing. This will reduce the number of unsolicited offers you receive. To opt-out, call 888-5-OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or visit optoutprescreen.com. You will need to provide certain information in order to opt-out, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. You have the ability to opt-out of receiving offers either for five years or permanently. If you want to opt-out permanently, you will need to fill-out, sign, and mail-in a form. The form is available by either calling the toll-free number or visiting the website. You can reverse your opt-out decision at any time to start receiving offers of credit and insurance again by calling the toll-free phone number or visiting the website.
Your Credit Score
What is a credit score? How is my credit score calculated? A credit score is a number that reflects the information in your credit report. The score summarises your credit history and helps lenders predict how likely it is that you will repay a loan and make payments when they are due. Lenders may use credit scores in deciding whether to grant you credit, what terms you are offered, or the rate you will pay on a loan.
Information used to calculate your credit score can include:
the number and type of accounts you have (credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, etc.);
whether you pay your bills on time;
how much of your available credit you are currently using;
whether you have any collection actions against you;
the amount of your outstanding debt; and
the age of your accounts.
What can cause my credit score to change?
Because your credit score reflects the information in your credit report, changes to your credit report may cause your credit score to change. For instance, if you pay your bills late or incur more debt, your credit score may go down. However, if you pay down an outstanding balance on a credit card or mortgage or correct an error in your credit report, your credit score may go up.
How can I get my credit score?
In some cases, a lender may tell you your credit score for free when you apply for credit. For example, if you apply for a mortgage, you will receive the credit score or scores that were used to determine whether the lender would extend credit to you and on what terms. You may also receive a free credit score or scores from lenders when you apply for other types of credit, such as an automobile loan or a credit card.
You may also purchase your credit score from any of the credit bureaus by calling them or visiting their websites.
How can I correct errors found in my credit report?
If you find errors in your credit report, you may dispute the information and request that the information be deleted or corrected. To do so, you should contact either the credit bureau that provided the report or the company or person that provided the incorrect information to the credit bureau.
To contact the credit bureau, call the toll-free number on your credit report or visit their website:
To contact the company or person that provided the incorrect information to the credit bureau, look on your credit report, in an account statement, or on the company’s website for contact information for handling such disputes.
When disputing information on your credit report, you should:
Provide information about yourself, such as your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number;
Identify specific details about the information that is being disputed and explain the basis of your dispute;
Have a copy of your credit report that contains the disputed information available; and
Provide supporting documentation, such as a copy of the relevant portion of the consumer report, a police report, a fraud or identity theft affidavit, or account statements.
What happens once I send in information to correct information in my credit report?
If you submit your dispute through a credit bureau or directly to the company or person that provided the incorrect information to the credit bureau, your dispute must be investigated, usually within thirty days. If you provide additional information during the thirty-day investigation, that investigation period may be extended an additional fifteen days in some circumstances. When the investigation is completed, either the credit bureau or the company or person that provided the incorrect information to the credit bureau must give you the written results of its investigation. If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide credit bureaus so they can correct the information in your credit report. You can get a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. This free report is in addition to your annual free report. If an item is changed or deleted, a credit bureau cannot put the disputed information back in your credit report unless the company or person that provided the incorrect information to the credit bureau verifies that the information is, indeed, accurate and complete. You can request that the credit bureau send notices of any correction to anyone who received your report in the past six months. A corrected copy of your report can be sent to anyone who received a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
What if an investigation does not resolve my dispute?
If an investigation does not resolve your dispute, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your future credit reports. You also can ask the credit bureau to provide your statement to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past, but you may have to pay a fee for this service
The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. There are various types of nonimmigrant visas for temporary visitors to travel to the U.S., if you are not a U.S. citizen or U.S. lawful permanent resident. It's important to have information about the type of nonimmigrant visa you will need for travel, and the steps required to apply for the visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
B-1/B-2 Tourist/Visitor Visas
Available to individuals who are coming in for medical treatment, domestic employees or nannies (must be accompanying a foreign national employer), athletes, amateur and professional (competing for prize money only) and all visitors coming to the U.S for business or pleasure. B-1 business visitor visas are for a short duration and must not involve local employment. Nationals of certain countries may be eligible to visit the US for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.
C Transiting the United States
Available if you are traveling in immediate and continuous transit through the United States en route to another country.
E-1/E-2 Treaty and Investor Visas
Investors and traders and their employees may receive visas to carry on their businesses in the US if their home country has a commercial treaty with the US conferring visa eligibility.
F-1 and M-1 Student Visas
Students seeking to pursue a full course of study at a school either as academic and language students in the United States may be eligible for a visa for the course of their study plus, in some cases, a period for practical training in their field of study.
H-1B/H-1C Specialty Occupation (Professionals) Visas
Professional workers for example physicians with at least a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent work experience) may be eligible for a non-immigrant visa if their employers can demonstrate that they are to be paid at least the prevailing wage for the position or employed in specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge. Nurses traveling to areas short of health care professionals are granted H-1C visa.
K-1 Fiancé (e) Visas
A Fiancé (e) of a US citizen is eligible for a non-immigrant visa conditioned on the conclusion of the marriage within 90 days.
Available for Exchange visitors or their children (under age 21) or spouse, professors, short term research scholars, teachers who are participating in an approved exchange programs.al
L-1 Intra-company Transfer Visas
Available to executives, managers and specialized knowledge employees transferring to their employer's U.S. affiliate. As an executive and manager, you may be eligible for permanent residency without the need for a labor certification.
O-1 Extraordinary Ability Worker Visas
This visa is aside for foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business or athletics and includes entertainers, athletes, scientists, and businesspersons.
P-1 Artists and Athletes Visas
This category covers athletes, artists and entertainers.
R-1 Religious Worker Visas
Religious workers may be eligible for an R-1 visa.
TC and TN NAFTA and US-Canada Free Trade Agreement Visas
A special visa category has been set up for nationals of Canada and Mexico under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement.
PERMANENT RESIDENCY VISAS ("GREEN CARDS")
Family Sponsored Immigration Visas
U.S. citizens may petition for spouses, parents, children and siblings. Permanent residents may petition for spouses and children.
Employer-Sponsored Immigrant Visas
EB-1 Foreign Nationals of Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Professors and Researchers and Multinational Executives and Managers
Individuals in this category can petition for permanent residency without having to go through the time consuming labor certification process.
EB-2 Workers with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business
Available for people who must have a job offer and the potential employer must complete the labor certification process which involves a testing of the job market to demonstrate that the potential visa holder is not taking a job away from a U.S. worker.
EB-3 Skilled Workers and Professionals
Visa holders in this category normally must have a job offer and the potential employer must complete the labor certification process.
EB-4 Special Immigrant Visas for Religious Workers
Ministers of religion are eligible for permanent residency.
DV-1 Visas (the "Green Card Lottery")
55,000 visas are annually allotted in a random drawing to individuals from nations underrepresented in the total immigrant pool.
Refugee and Asylum Applications
Available for persons with a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Temporary Protected Status
Available to individuals from selected countries which the U.S. currently recognizes as unsafe and allowing individuals to remain in the U.S. for the duration of their status, though it doesn’t lead to a visa.
Allows certain Mexican and Canadian workers to avoid the visa application process by proceeding directly to a U.S. port of entry and presenting the necessary documents.
Immigrating to the United States is a process that contains a lot of bureaucracy - especially if you have a pet. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection department subjects entering animals to many requirements and prohibitions - both when immigrating and traveling. These requirements include meeting health, quarantine, agriculture and wildlife regulation and you have to make sure your that pets meet all of them.
A few things worth Knowing:
The U.S. Public Health Service requires that all pet dogs and cats imported into the country to be examined at the first port of entry for evidence of human transmissible diseases.
You must show a valid rabies vaccination certificate if your dog came from areas not free of rabies.
It is illegal to import, export, distribute, transport, manufacture, or sell products containing dog or cat fur in the US and would attract a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each separate knowing and intentional violation, $5,000 for each separate gross negligent violation, or $3,000 for each separate negligent violation.
Endangered and threatened animals and plant wildlife, migratory birds, marine mammals, and certain injurious wildlife may not be imported without special federal permits.
Dogs, cats, and turtles are free from customs duty, but other pets could be subject to a customs duty. Purebred animals, other than domesticated livestock, are also free from customs duty under certain conditions.
So what actually happens when you enter the U.S.?
Prior to the examination of your dog at the point of entry, you must provide an application to the Department of Agriculture on VS Form 17-338 for a certificate of pure breeding. During transportation, it is required these pets are under healthy, humane conditions, that is to say, use of a carrier of suitable cages, space, ventilation, and protection, proper cleaning, feeding, etc. Their containers should be plainly marked, labeled or tagged on the outside with your name and address and that of the shipper, and an accurate invoice stating the number of each species contained within the shipment. Ensure to check with your anticipated port of arrival before importing your pet to avoid unnecessary delays due to the difference from port to port in the hours of service and availability of inspectors. You would provide a declaration stating that you are a US citizen and that the animal being imported to be used specifically for breeding purposes is registered in the country of origin within a book of registry recognized by the U.S.
At the port of entry, all domestic cats on examination must be free of evidence of human communicable disease. If your cat is sick, you will be charged for further examination by a licensed veterinarian.
Domestic dogs must be free of any evidence of human communicable disease at the port of entry. If your dog is not in apparent good health, you will be charged for further examination by a licensed veterinarian. Collies, shepherds, and other dogs from any part of the world except Canada, Mexico, and regions of Central America and the West Indies must be inspected and quarantined duly at the port of entry to determine their freedom from tapeworm. Dogs (over three months of age) must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entering the US.
Certain procedures are involved when you are importing your dog from an area that is not free of rabies:
-a valid rabies vaccination certificate in English signed by a licensed veterinarian to identify your animal, the dates of vaccination and expiration.
-Admission and confinement of your dog until proper vaccination, if too young to be vaccinated, but only after the importer has completed a confinement agreement. Your dog may be admitted if vaccination was performed less than 30 days before arrival but must be confined at your place of choice until at least 30 days.
- Confinement of your puppies at your place of choice until they are three months old, before vaccination. Thereafter, they are confined for 30 days.
Exemptions with the importation of dogs include:
-importing your dog from countries or regions where “screwworm” is known to exist, along with a certificate signed by a full-time salaried veterinary official of that region stating that the dog has been inspected for screwworm within 5 days prior.
-importing dogs from countries or regions affected with Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), and to help prevent the introduction of FMD:
-the absence of excessive dirt or mud from your pet’s feet, fur, and bedding.
-the absence of straw or hay, or other natural bedding from your pet's bedding.
-your pet should be bathed immediately after it reaches its final destination.
-separation from all livestock for at least 5 days after entry into the US.
Only importers who are registered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can import monkeys and other primates specifically on scientific, educational or exhibition basis. However, under no circumstances will they be imported as pets. Clearance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required to import or export primates.
The CDC may issue a permit for importation of more than the permitted number if the importation is for a bonafide noncommercial scientific or exhibition purpose. Live turtles with a shell longer than four inches can be imported but on the other hand, live turtles with shells less than four inches along with viable turtle eggs can be only be imported, provided that for each arrival, there is no more than one lot containing fewer than seven viable turtle eggs, or any combination thereof totalling less than seven.
Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters, Ferrets, and Other Pet Rodents have no restrictions or requirements when they are pets.
Ensure to contact your local U.S. Customs and Border Protection office, the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy, U.S. Customs Port or the specific agency mentioned getting adequate information if you plan to enter the U.S. with a pet.
Have you lived outside India for more than 182 days in the financial year (Apr-March)? If yes, then for tax purposes, you are an NRI (Non-Resident Indian). As per FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) guidelines, it is illegal for NRIs to hold savings accounts in their name in India.
Instead, you will have to convert those accounts into NRO (Non-Resident Ordinary Rupee) accounts. Additionally, it is a good idea to open an NRE (Non-Resident Rupee) account as well. These accounts are needed only when an NRI wants to have a bank account in his/her own name in India to hold savings, earn/invest in India and wants to freely transfer funds between US and India. (If you don’t have any Indian bank accounts, you can still send money to someone in India via money transfer services, wire transfers or Telegraphs, or buy something in India with International Credit Cards).
What is the NRO account?
The NRO account is a savings or current account held in India for NRIs to manage their income earned in India. All income which is receivable in India such as rentals from property, investments, pension etc have to be deposited in this account. Any payment towards insurance premiums or EMIs on loans which you availed while in India also has to be mandated from NRO account.
You can apply for an NRO account jointly with a resident Indian in which the bank will give you both an NRO debit card each. Alternately, you can add a mandate holder for the account who can carry out certain operations of the account on behalf of the NRI like drawing cheques to make local payments, make and renew fixed deposits, and invest in avenues open for NRIs. Any foreign currency deposited into the NRO account will convert to Indian rupees.
Even though funds from NRO account are now repatriable up to $1million (with a certificate from a Chartered Accountant for payment of taxes and other repatriation fees), it is advised to keep these India based earnings in India, in the NRO account. Note that interest earned in the NRO Account is subject to TDS (Tax Deductible At Source) at 30.9%.
And what about an NRE account?
The NRE account comes to the rescue, for NRIs wanting to transfer funds between US and India. One can deposit only foreign currency earned abroad in this account, which gets converted into INR at the time of deposit. Therefore, you may repatriate the money in this account (plus interest earned) any time without incurring income/wealth/gift tax. The benefit of repatriation and taxation is the main benefit of the NRE account. Some Indians move their US savings to the NRO accounts, invest in India in high yield instruments, and re-transfer and use that money in the US. Transferring funds between and NRE and NRO account is straightforward and simple. Additionally, with the NRE account, you will receive an international debit card that enables you to transact and withdraw money at any time (withdrawal in INR).
However, a joint NRE account can be opened only with another NRI. You cannot use your NRE account for receiving funds/income/interest in India. To make local bill payments, purchase property, etc. in India you will have to move funds from your NRE to NRO account first. This is how the government regulates the inflow of foreign money to India.
Please contact your Indian Bank now for details on opening and managing your NRE and NRO accounts.
The big moment is almost here. Are you ready? The countdown to Tax day has started.
Here's a checklist with the documents most of you would probably need to send. Use it to make sure you’re covered:
SSN and Date of Birth (yours and your spouse)
Copies of last year’s tax returns for both spouses (optional, but helpful)
Bank account number and routing number for depositing returns
1099-C - Debt cancellation form
1099-G - Form for unemployment benefits or tax refunds already received
1099-MISC - for income from freelance work
1099-R or 8606 - for payments/distributions from IRAs or retirement plans
1099-S - forms for income from sale of a property
1099-INT or -DIV or -B or K-1 for income from investments or shares
SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits
Business or farming income - profit/loss statement, capital equipment information
Income/expenses from rental of property
Any additional income: prizes, grants, scholarships, etc.
Forms that can help you trickle down the tax breaks:
1098-E for student loans interest paid
1098-T for payment of tuition fees
Receipts for home improvements in energy (installation of solar system, for example)
Records of Medical Savings Account (MSA) contributions
Health insurance records for self-employed workers
Receipts for moving expenses (carriers, new telephone lines, etc.)
Child support payments
Deductions and credits:
The US government offers tax benefits in many cases, which will usually significantly lower your tax account or even get some money to your pocket. You will need any of these documents to get your benefits:
Education Costs: Form 1098-T
Adoption costs: the child's SSN number and documentation of medical, legal and even transportation costs
Form 1098: interest on mortgage, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and points paid
Receipts for donations and charity
Medical expenses and dental expenses
Casualty and theft losses: amount of damage, insurance reimbursements
Home renovation expenses
Rental property income/expenses: profit/loss statement, rental property suspended loss information