1. Resist Identity Theft. Identity theft is on the rise. This entails someone using your credit without your knowledge. You can resist identity theft by obtaining a free annual credit report. If you see activity on your credit report that does not belong to you, you may be the victim of identity theft. You can then dispute the claim on your credit report.
2. Burden of proof. The government does not allow you a free annual credit report to be nice. The reason for this is to force you to examine what is being reported about you to creditors and employers. By making this available to everyone, they are transferring the burden of proof to you regarding your credit. Even if you are the type of person who prefers to pay for everything with cash, your credit history is often revealed to prospective employers. It is therefore essential that you obtain a free annual credit report to make sure that any findings on the report are accurate.
That being said, by getting a free annual credit report, you can protect yourself from errors that are being reported on your credit report. You can dispute the matter with the credit bureau and they have to remove the item if they cannot prove that it belongs to you. It is, however, up to you to order the report. It will not be sent to you automatically.
3. Eliminate errors. Credit reports are often filled with inaccurate information. This is especially true if you have a common surname. You may find several items on your credit report that do not belong to you. You have a right to dispute these items and it is up to the credit company to prove that they belong to you. If they cannot prove that the items are yours, the credit reporting agency has to remove them from your credit report. Prior to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus often ignored any requests to remove erroneous items from credit reports and placed the burden of proof onto individuals who had clear cut errors on their reports.
Things have changed quite a bit in the past 20 years with regard to credit reporting. Because we now rely so heavily on our credit reports, not only to obtain loans but also employment, it is essential that they are accurate and that the agencies reporting this information are accountable. By obtaining a free anual credit report from each of the three reporting agencies, you can make sure that your credit history is accurate, that the reporting agencies stay accountable, and take control of this aspect of your life.
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