One step to ensure that no one has stolen your financial identity or established fraudulent credit in your name is to review your credit report. There are three large credit reporting agencies - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax - that receive, store and make information available on the borrowing of most consumers.
The credit agencies receive information when someone applies for credit as well as the payment history on most individual borrowing. Lenders can then access that information when they are considering making loans to individuals. To ensure that your information is correct and that no one has taken loans in your name, you should know what is in your credit report.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and established by the three credit agencies, enables consumers to receive a copy of their credit reports from each of the three credit agencies once a year. You can request and receive the free reports at the AnnualCreditReport.com website (www.annualcreditreport.com). You can also request the reports by phone (1-877-322-8228) and by mail.
This is the only government authorized program for this service. AnnualCreditReport.com does not solicit consumers by email, telemarketing, or direct mail. You should be very wary of advertisements promising free credit reports or credit report monitoring. They are probably attempts to sell reports or services that you probably do not need.
You can also call the credit reporting agencies directly, but there may be a charge.
Experian - 888/397-3742
TransUnion - 800/888-4213
Equifax - 800/997-2493
You should review your credit report carefully when you receive it. Do not be surprised if the reports are somewhat different from the different companies. Each company gets information from many sources. If you find the information in your file is inaccurate or unfair, you can take steps to correct it or at least get your side of the story attached to your file. If a creditor has made an inaccurate complaint, you can write to the creditor and insist the record be corrected. You should also write to the credit bureau and request their records be corrected.
If you see totally unusual items in your report, contact the credit agencies immediately.
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