Your credit report contains information about where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies. Some financial advisors and consumer advocates suggest that you review your credit report periodically. Why?
• Because the information it contains affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money.
• To make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
• To help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number — to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.
Getting Your Credit Report
• An amendment to the FCRA requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
• Other situations where you might be eligible for a free report
• Under federal law, you’re also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, based on information in your report. You must ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company.
• You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
• Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $10.50 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period. To buy a copy of your report, contact:
Experian-1-888-397-3742 - experian.com/
TransUnion-1-800-916-8800 - transunion.com/
Equifax-1-800-685-1111 - equifax.com/