If you have limited credit and have tried to get a credit card only to get denied, then tried to pull your credit score only to find out you have no score, you may have fallen into a credit category called a “Thin File“. If you try and pull your credit report and your file is thin, the thin flag will be returned to you, so you will at least know you’re in this status. It is better to have bad credit than a thin file. When you have a “thin” file there simply is not enough information on file to generate a credit score. If your score is to low this can also lead to a “thin” file. Thin files are common for individuals who are just building up their credit for the first time. I will outline the possible causes of a thin file now.

You have never established any credit for yourself.

If you have no ongoing loans such as student loans, auto loans, mortgages or personal loans, a credit card, or revolving lines of credit then simply put the major credit bureaus cannot generate a credit score.

Solutions:
You need to start building your credit. This will however take time, there is no magic pill or fast easy fix for this. The good news is it can indeed be done. You should start out with a secured credit card, this will help you build your credit up over time. It will require a few hundred dollars to open one, the funds will be held in an account for you until such a time as the secured card gets upgraded to a non secured credit card. The upgrading of your secured credit card to a non secured credit card will entirely depend upon you and your actions. If you pay your credit card statement on time, every time and make at least the minimum payments, at some point your card will be upgraded or at the very least you will be given increases in your credit limit. One mistake I advise not making is choosing to not pay the bill and thinking the deposit will cover the bill, it will not, interest will continue to accrue and you will take a massive hit on your credit report. The good news is limited or poor credit is often not a factor in getting approved for these cards. Another option to help build your credit up is to open a small line of credit with local stores, conns for example has lines of credit for even people with limited credit histories and faithfully paying off your debts will be reported to the credit agencies.

You are brand new to credit or you are just now re-establishing your credit.
If you only have one loan or a starter credit card, you will have a thin file. Building a credit score takes time. If you closed to many accounts at once you may also find yourself in the thin file category.

Solutions:

charge something on your card each month, pay the balance off every month in full. After about 6 months open a second account either a regular credit card or secured credit card, and also charge something on it each month. Also as above consider opening a small line of credit with a local store and pay that off. Pull your credit report and ensure that all the information is accurate, if any of your open credit cards, loans or lines of credit do not appear on your credit report do contact your creditors to remedy this. If there is inaccurate or false information on your credit report then by all means file a dispute with the credit reporting agency.


Mixed / Split Credit Files.

A split file happens when there is too much inaccurate info on your credit report. Too much information, multiple addresses, name changes and the like can cause this to happen. Another person’s credit file being merged with your credit file can also cause this to happen, such as with sloppy identity theft. If you are a senior or junior living at the same address then you need to use your full name including the SR or JR, as the credit reporting agency cannot determine who is applying otherwise. If someone tries to apply for new credit using your name and or social security number, but mixed with their own personal information this to can cause a split file. Too many soft inquiries can also cause this problem, in which case it will sort itself out with the passing of time, or you can call the credit agencies to have them remove the soft inquiries which will help make your file one again. Initiating a dispute can also cause this on Equifax, which can be a pain.


Solutions:

Pull your credit report first off from all 3 major bureaus. Send the credit reporting agency your full name, address, a copy of your drivers license, social security number and a copy of a utility bill or phone bill. Next you also want to find out how your file got split in the first place, so look for inaccurate info on your credit report, and contact any creditors to have them update your reports with the correct information.


The credit bureau thinks you’re deceased.

This is the rarest of reasons for a thin file, but it has happened in the past, especially with people with common names like John Smith.

Solutions:

Sadly correcting this is often a very lengthy and time-consuming process, which sounds crazy as it shouldn’t be that hard to prove you are in fact not dead. You may need I kid you not here notarized proof that indeed you’re alive. You should file a dispute with the credit agency and include your full name, date of birth, current mailing address, social security number, and a written statement saying you’re not deceased, and possibly a letter from your doctor affirming this.

One last word on thin files, it helps to get rid of any debt hanging around on your credit report. Paying off debt is a sure fire way to raise your credit score.