Credit reports: have you checked out yours?

Review your credit report annually to check for identity theft and accuracy of the report.

Have your checked your credit report recently? With the increasing risk of identity theft and the possibility of errors on your credit report, Michigan State University Extension recommends that you review your credit reports annually. Because of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, anyone is able to receive a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Trans Union and Experian.

Why is reviewing your credit report annually important? Credit reports provide a record of your credit history. They include information such as your current and recent home addresses, employer information, whether you pay your bills on time, how much debt you have and who that debt is with, and the timeliness of your payments, available credit and current balances. Your credit report is then used to help determine your credit worthiness, for instance, when you apply for a car loan, a mortgage or another credit card. Your report is compiled by the credit reporting agencies and released to potential creditors, by request.

In addition, your credit score is used for other purposes such as determining the amount you will pay for insurance such as auto insurance. Prospective employers may check your credit history before making a hiring decision. Landlords may also check credit scores before renting to someone.

It is important to ensure that your credit report is as accurate as possible. To order your free credit report, go to annualcreditreport.com where you can order your reports directly or download the Annual Credit Report Request form to mail in your request. The form will need to be mailed to Annual Credit Report Request Service: P.O. Box 105281; Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. You can also call 877-322-8228.

The FACT Act also gives you new rights to a free credit report if you are a victim of identity theft.

For more information on obtaining your free credit report, check out the fact sheets at the Federal Trade Commission

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