You should get a free credit report from the three reporting agencies each year. It is your right out of the Fair Debit Collection And Reporting Act to get a free report annually from the three main reporting agencies. These are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
You can write to these agencies, call them or contact them online once a year to get your free credit report. If you stagger these out, you can keep track of your credit every four months as they pretty much get the same information. Every once in a while, one of them will report something different, but for the most part, they are the same.
Once you have your free credit report, you can look it over and make sure that there is nothing on the report that is incorrect. If you see one thing on there that is wrong and you have a common name, chances are that it is just an error. You should contact the reporting agency immediately and ask that the item be verified or removed. Tell them that you dispute the item and they will have to remove it while they investigate the matter. When they find that it is a mistake, the item will be removed. You can then ask for a copy of the corrected credit report.
If there are many items on your credit report that do not belong to you, this can be more disturbing. You may be the victim of identity theft. You should then contact the credit bureau with this information as well as the other bureaus. They can put a freeze on your credit so that no one else can use credit against your name. You will then have to work on clearing yourself of these false charges.
If you apply for a loan and get turned down, the place where you applied for the loan has to contact you by mail and give you the information of why you were turned down. Most likely, they will tell you that it was from information derived from a credit report received by one of the three reporting bureaus. You can then send a copy of this letter to the bureau and request that they send you a copy of your credit report. They have to do this by law. One way that many people learn they have been the victim of identity theft is when they get turned down for a loan. If this happens to you, even if your credit is less than perfect, request a copy of your credit report. It is free and you should make sure that nothing else is going on in your account.
Getting a copy of your free credit report on an annual basis is a good idea. You have a right to do this and you should take advantage of that right. You never know if there is a mistake on the credit report or if someone is using your social security number to open credit in their name. Know your rights and protect yourself by getting a free credit report.
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