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It's widely reported that 1 in 4 credit reports have errors. If you don't review your credit reports on a regular basis, you may be paying for someone else's mistakes without knowing about it.
When credit reports contain inaccurate or fraudulent data, interest rates may rise -along with your credit card payments. False derogatory data can take years to correct, leaving one to be denied credit opportunities and forced to pay higher auto insurance premiums and steeper interest rates. The effect can cause once affordable minimum payments to rise without warning.
What you don't know can hurt you!
Many errors contained in consumer credit reports can block a consumer from obtaining employment, housing or affordable interest rates and insurance premiums.
Inaccuracies can create the appearance of a consumer being over-extended, and falsely, as a poor credit risk. Often times the consumer is unaware there is even a problem hidden within one or more of their credit reports until being denied for credit.
Many common errors found in credit reports include:
- Inaccurate personal information such as misspelled names, wrong Social Security numbers, inaccurate birth dates, inaccurate information about a spouse and out of date address and employment information
- "Closed" accounts listed as "open
- Reports that duplicate same mortgage or loans. This mistake is common and often occurs when loans are serviced or sold
- Co-mingling of credit belonging to someone one with a similar name (or family member)
- Notations of late fees for accounts that were paid on time
- Bogus debt collection accounts on debts that are now owed or even known
Aside from inaccuracies, we need to monitor our credit reports for fraudulent activity caused by identity theft -one of the fastest growing crimes in America.
How to Order Your Free Report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation's consumer reporting companies. An amendment to the FCRA requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion -- to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
The three nationwide credit bureaus have set up one website, toll-free telephone number, and mailing address through which you can order your free annual report. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228, 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. They are only providing free annual credit reports only through annualcreditreport.com, 1-877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
The FCRA allows you to order one free copy from each of the nationwide credit reporting companies every 12 months.You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can order from only one or two.
You need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each credit bureau may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.
Other situations where you might be eligible for a free report
You're also entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, based on information in your report. You must ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting company.
You're also entitled to one free report a year if you're unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you're on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.
Otherwise, a credit reporting company may charge you up to $11.00 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period. To buy a copy of your report, contact:
Read additional blog posts on credit reporting.