A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, whether someone has a judgment against you or whether you have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell this information to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses, who then use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.
It is important to check your credit report annually to make sure the information is accurate and complete, and to make sure you did not fall a victim to identity theft. You are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months. If you have not requested yours yet, please visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
You have the right to a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com or 877-322-8228, the ONLY authorized source under federal law.
If you would like to dispute information in your credit report, receive a credit report or place a fraud alert on your credit report, please visit the three credit bureaus:
Placing A Fraud Alert
A fraud alert tells creditors to follow certain procedures to protect your identity, making it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name. However, it may delay your ability to obtain credit since businesses must verify your identity. You can place a fraud alert by calling any of the three credit reporting agencies listed above. Once that agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two to do the same.
Stays on your credit report for at least 90 days and can be used if you suspect you have been, or are about to be, a victim of identity theft. An initial alert is appropriate if your wallet has been stolen or if you've falling for a phishing scam.
Stays on your credit report for seven years. You can have an extended alert placed on your credit report if you have been a victim of identity theft and you provide the consumer reporting company with an Identity Theft Affidavit. Plus, your name will be removed from marketing lists for pre-screened credit offers for five years.
Protect Your Credit Rating
Control your spending.
Pay your bills on time.
Pay more than the minimum balance.
Keep copies of your receipts and check them against your monthly bill(s).
Keep a list of all your account numbers (in a safe place) in case your cards are lost or stolen.
Safeguard yourself against fraud and identity theft by cutting up old cards and shredding statements and unwanted credit offers
The Federal Reserve Board provides answers to some of the most common, and most important, questions about credit. Click here to read their Consumer's Guide on credit reports and credit scores.