Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Check Your Credit Report

Check Your Credit Report

Check your credit report once a year. It's a credit healthy thing to do—and now it's free. Creditors determine whether to give you credit or a loan—and how much you will pay—based on information in your credit history. The national credit bureaus (now called consumer reporting companies) collect information from your creditors about how many credit cards and loans you have and how many accounts are late, overdue, or in collection. They sell information in your file to creditors who determine if you'll get a loan and how much interest you'll pay on a credit card. This information about how much credit you have and how you pay your bills can even be used to decide if you get a job, new cell phone service, an apartment lease, or car insurance.

Even if you think your credit history is good, you still should get a copy of your report. You might find anything from old accounts to errors to outright identity theft. You shouldn’t be the last to know what’s in your file. That’s especially true now that you can get free copies of your credit reports from the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

How to Order

You can order your free reports three ways:

  • Call 1-877-322-8228.
  • Visit www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Mail a request form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, PO Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

Important advice:

Know that there are imposters that use web site names that are extremely similar to the real “free” web site.

  • Only order from this official source.
  • Don’t open emails or click on pop-ups that offer a free credit report. This could be a scam to steal your personal information.
  • Never give a credit card number for a “free” credit report.
  • You don’t have to purchase anything to get a “free” credit report. Many supposedly free credit reports will cost you money.
  • Don’t contact the consumer reporting companies directly to get this free annual report opportunity.

How do I correct a mistake on my file?

If you find something wrong in your file, you need to tell the consumer reporting company what information is inaccurate. It is best to do this in writing. AARP recommends you use certified mail so you can prove you sent the dispute. If you have documents that support your claim, send copies—not the originals. The company has to investigate your claim and report back to you. You will also get another free credit report if your claim changes your file. You should also write to the creditor that provided the information to the consumer reporting company that you are disputing information it gave.

Here are the addresses and phone numbers for disputes.

Equifax
P.O.Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
(800) 797-7033 (9:00 am to 5:00 pm in your time zone)

Experian
NCAC
P.O. Box 9595
Allen, TX 75013
(800) 583-4080 (9:00 am to 5:00 pm in your time zone)

TransUnion
P.O. Box 200
Chester, PA 19022-2000
(800) 916-8800 (8:30 am to 4:30 pm in your time zone)