Monitoring Your Credit Report
Your credit report gives you a single snapshot of your past credit activity and includes four basic types of information:
- Identification and employment information. Personal information, such as name, birth date, Social Security Number and employer.
- Payment history. A list of the accounts you have with different creditors, showing how much credit they extended to you and whether or not you have paid on time.
- Inquiries. A record of the lenders and creditors that have requested your credit history.
- Public Record Information. Events that are a matter of public record, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures or tax liens.
There are three credit reporting agencies in the United States that gather and document this information - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Credit card companies, mortgage lenders and others purchase this information from these agencies to evaluate your ability to repay debt and decide whether they should approve your credit card or loan application. A potential landlord or employer may also request this information.
As a result, checking your credit report regularly - at least once a year - is a good idea. That way when you're ready to buy something like a house or a new car, you'll know how good your credit is. You'll also want to be sure that the information is correct and free of any fraudulent activity. Your credit report will show if anyone else has tried to apply for credit using your name and personal information.
Requesting a copy of your credit report
According to a new federal law, you are entitled to request a copy of your credit report—free once every 12 months—from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
A central, authorized site has been established for consumers to make their requests. To obtain your free annual credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You'll be able to view, download and print your credit report almost immediately. You can also call 877-322-8228 to make your request.
In addition, a credit report can be ordered from each of the credit bureaus listed below. The reports are usually less than $10, but they are free if you've been turned down for credit, employment or housing in the past 60 days.
|Credit Bureau Address||Credit Report Request|
Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 9556
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
Be sure to review your report carefully. Check to be sure all information is accurate. Look for evidence of fraud-any accounts you didn't open or charges you didn't make. If you find any information you believe is in error, contact the reporting agency immediately to request that the errors be corrected.