We live in a world of credit and companies keep track of how we manage it. They maintain files called credit reports and share the information with those who might give us credit or loans. A credit report can determine whether we get a loan and the amount of interest we must pay.
It’s important to maintain a good credit history and to be sure our credit reports are accurate.
Many companies offer to check our credit reports for a fee and “fix” any negative information. Don’t be fooled. You don’t have to pay to see your credit report and if legitimate negative information is removed it will likely re-appear in the months to follow.
- Obtain your credit report for free once a year from the three national credit reporting agencies. You can contact a central clearing house for all the reports. Click on www.annualcreditreport.com, call 877-322-8228 or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
- The three major credit reporting agencies are:
Equifax, 800-685-1111, www.equifax.com;
Experian, 866-200-6020, www.experian.com;
TransUnion, 800-888-4213, www.transunion.com
- You can also obtain your credit score for a small fee. A credit score is a number lenders use to determine your credit worthiness. A high number is better.
- Be wary of companies offering to sell you credit reports and credit monitoring programs.
- Don’t do business with those who charge an upfront fee.
- Avoid companies that offer to erase accurate negative information in your credit report. Only inaccurate or outdated information can be removed and you can do that by contacting the credit reporting agencies yourself.
- If you discover inaccurate information, ask the reporting agency for a dispute form and an investigation. If the investigation confirms the information is inaccurate, ask the reporting agency to send a corrected version of your report to those who received a copy.
The Federal Trade Commission