Your Financial Identity by Reviewing Your Credit Report
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 Federal Trade
Commission a program established by the three credit agencies that 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.