It almost goes without saying, good credit is vital to enjoying many of the important things in life. Our homes, our children’s higher education, automobiles and many other purchases are quite often financed based on our credit.
So it is important to have and maintain good credit. Of course, as part of that, you need to:
- Buy only what you can afford
- Borrow wisely
- Pay bills on time
But there is something else you can, and should do…
You Should Check Your Credit Standing.
Why? Because even though you are careful with your credit, mistakes happen and there is always the threat of identity theft.
And How Do You Check On Your Credit?
Well, you go to the source. You obtain your credit report from the same three companies that furnish your credit information to banks, credit card companies, and other lenders.
That’s right, Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you ask for it.
How Do You Ask for a Free Credit Report?
The three nationwide credit reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.
To order, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. Or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. Do not contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228 or mailing to Annual Credit Report Request Service.
You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.
What Should You Look for in Your Credit Report?
Make sure your credit report contains only items about you. Look for information that is inaccurate or incomplete, such as accounts that do not belong to you, addresses of places where you did not live, names of employers you did not work for, or information that should no longer be on your credit report, such a bankruptcy that is more than ten years old.
Look for multiple “copies” of an account. Credit reports should only show one instance of an account. Multiple “copies” of the same derogatory account on your credit report may hurt your credit score because they look like multiple delinquencies.
If you find errors, you should contact the credit reporting agency from whom you obtained the report, and the creditor or whomever provided the information (called the “furnisher” of the information). The copy of your credit report will include information about how to dispute inaccurate or incomplete information. For more information, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.
In Particular Be On Guard Against Possible Identity Theft
Review your free credit report. If an identity thief is opening financial accounts in your name, these accounts may show up on your credit report. Look for inquiries from companies you’ve never contacted, accounts you didn’t open, and wrong amounts on your accounts. Also be sure your personal information – like your Social Security number, address, name or initials, and employers – is correct.
You Might Be Thinking, “What About My Credit Score”?
Free credit reports provided by credit reporting agencies do not include credit scores. These agencies charge a fee for providing this information. However, if you are a member of the Tri-Town Teachers FCU you can obtain your score from the Credit Union without a fee (just another reason why belonging to the Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union is a good thing!).
Protect Your Credit Standing
A good credit rating is very important and it only takes a reporting mistake or an attack on your identity to lose it. Keep on top of your credit standing by requesting a free credit report from the three major credit reporting companies. Visit annualcreditreport.com.
More questions? Visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website Free Credit Reports for answers and more information.
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