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Have you checked your credit report lately?

When was the last time you requested your credit report?  A credit report includes how you pay your bills,  if you ever filed for bankruptcy, any loan defaults, and a listing of your opened and closed credit accounts.  It is important to make sure your credit report is accurate to guard against identity theft and to check for errors which could cause you not to get a loan or the best loan rates.   The good news is checking your credit report is free.

There are three national credit bureaus:  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  They are also called credit reporting agencies.  Your credit report can be retrieved from all three credit bureaus at one time or you could stagger the reports and request one every four months from a different credit bureau.  All three agencies have set up a telephone number, website, and mailing address to order a credit report.

Toll-free number:  1-877-322-8228
Website address:  www.annualcreditreport.com
Mailing address:  Send a completed request form to
                                          Annual Credit Report Request Service
                                          P.O. Box 105281
                                         Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

Once you receive your report(s) you will want to review all of the listed accounts to make sure no one has opened accounts in your name or obtained credit using your identity.  Do you recognize all of them?  Is the payment history accurate?  If you find any errors or have questions about the information in the report you can dispute the information in writing to the credit agency and the agency must investigate your claim within 30 days.

After you have checked your report and everything looks fine you will have a peace of mind.  Then what?  Request it again in a year.  As a reminder, write it down on your calendar to request your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies or once a year from all three agencies.

Resources

FTC.Gov consumer site:  http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:  http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/309/what-is-a-credit-report.html

 

Christina Bonds

Christina Bonds is an Application Specialist in the Web Technology department at Elon University.

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