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Credit Reports

A recent federal law gives you free access to your credit report, so you can keep track of your information and fight identity theft.

Your credit report and credit score can affect your chances of qualifying for insurance, loans, or interest rates, and even your chances of getting a job. As of Dec. 1, 2004, the Fair Credit Reporting Act lets you request a free copy of your credit report once a year, so you can check its accuracy.

You can obtain your free credit report in these ways:

  • Visit AnnualCreditReport.com. (Note: You'll get a security notice to type in the Web address, which will take you to the website.)
  • Call (877) 322-8228.
  • Write Annual Credit Report Request Service, P. O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

You'll need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, and possibly your previous address. To maintain security, the reporting company may ask for some information that only you would know, such as your monthly mortgage payment.

You should review your credit report if you:

  • Have been the victim of a lawsuit or other action because of information in your credit report
  • Have placed a fraud alert on your report because you've been the victim of identity theft
  • Believe your report contains inaccurate information because of fraud
  • Are on public assistance
  • Are unemployed and expect to file for employment within 60 days
Even if you don't fit the above criteria, it's a good idea to review your credit report annually.

The 3 primary credit bureaus include Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. You can find links to all three of these bureaus at the Federal Trade Commission's website. Additional specialty bureaus sell reports about issues such as insurance, employment, and rental histories.