The Consumer Financial Protection bureau advises consumers to check their credit reports at least once a year.
Why should I check my credit report?
· To look for mistakes to fix that could hurt your ability to get credit.
· To make sure your information is correct and up-to-date.
· To protect you against identity theft.
What are common mistakes found in credit reports?
· Loans and credit accounts you’ve never opened.
· Wrong social security number, address, or number, and misspelling your name.
· Accounts wrongly listed as late, closed accounts listed as open, or accounts listed more than once.
· Incorrect balances, credit limits, or delinquency dates.
Mistakes in your credit reports, or fraud caused by an identity theft, can make borrowing more expensive or even prevent you from getting credit.
What do I do if I find a mistake?
Dispute the mistakes you find.
Your credit report will include the information about how to dispute a mistake that you found. When you’re disputing a mistake, it should clearly explain what you think is wrong and why. Be specific, state the facts, and request that it can be corrected. When you’re sending your dispute letter to your creditor, make sure that you include copies of the documentation that support your position, and highlight the items that are relevant in your credit report. Your dispute letter should be sent to both the credit reporting company and the creditor.
If your dispute doesn’t get resolved, then you can ask that the statement of the dispute be included in your credit file and in future credit reports.
If your dispute information is wrong or cannot be verified, then the creditor is responsible for changing or deleting the information and provides a correction to the credit reporting companies that received the disputed information.
Do I have to pay for credit monitoring?
NO. You don’t need to pay for credit monitoring. By law, you are entitled a free credit report once a year from each of the credit reporting companies. There are a few different ways you can get your reports. In January, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get your Experian report. In April, go back and check your Equifax report, and in August you can get your TransUnion report as well. This allows you to keep an eye out for all your credit records for FREE.
In addition, you also don’t need to pay a credit monitoring service to stop thieves from opening accounts with your information. You can prevent this buy putting a freeze on your credit reports. A freeze prevents other people from accessing your credit files and it prevents other people from opening an account in your name. You can simply just contact Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to put a freeze on your reports.
Moreover, if you believe that you’re about to become a victim of identity theft or fraud, you can place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Doing so will require lenders to take steps to verify your identity before opening a new account in your name.