Protecting Your Credit
The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, better known as the FACT Act, entitles consumers to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian®, Equifax, and TransUnionTM).
Three Ways to Order Your Credit Report:
- Online - Annual Credit Report
- Phone - 877-322-8228
- Mail - Print a request form from the Web address above, fill it out and send to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Remember, you may obtain one credit report from each of the three credit bureaus. You may choose to request one report every four months so that you are able to view your credit file periodically. If you request all three at once, you will not be entitled to another free credit report through this service for another year.
However, if you believe that you are a victim of identity theft, you should obtain one credit report from each credit bureau in order to make sure that your information is correct with each bureau.
Your credit report contains information that determines your credit score. Your score affects your ability to borrow money at reasonable rates, get insurances, or even secure employment. It's important to understand the content of your credit report.
Here are some key areas to check. Information that reflect inconsistencies with your actions or incorrect information could be signs of attempts to steal your identity.
Inquiries: These should correspond to applications that you've made for credit. Creditors, employers, or collection agencies, however, might recheck your credit periodically. These rechecks are shown as "inquiries" on your report.
Inactive Accounts with Activity: Thieves sometimes change the address on inactive accounts and use them on their own.
Accounts You are Unaware Of: If an account is new, this may be a sign that an identity thief has opened an account in your name. As a precaution, you should close accounts you no longer use.
Unexpected Public Records: Pay attention to public records - court judgments, evictions, and liens, for example - that don't belong to you.
Unexpected Derogatory Information: Typically, an identity thief will incur a lot of charges and never pay for them. Look for unexpected past due items.
If you determine that you are a victim of identity theft, immediately report your findings to your financial institutions and your local police. You should also place a fraud alert on your credit report.