Managing and Securing Your Credit Information

A credit report is a detailed account of your individual credit history, compiled by one of the three major credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). Creditors use these reports to evaluate an individual’s ability and willingness to repay debt. Banks, department stores, the IRS, the court system, doctors, hospitals, utilities, and other companies all submit payment information directly to the credit reporting companies.

Why should I monitor my credit report?

Your credit history may change frequently. One step to ensure that no one has stolen your financial identity or established fraudulent credit in your name is to review your credit report. Monitoring your credit history on a regular basis will alert you to potentially fraudulent activity. Whenever you see unusual items in your report, you should contact the credit companies immediately.

What information is included in my credit report?

Your credit report contains basic personal information, such as your full name, names you may have used in the past, your age or date of birth, Social Security number, address and employment information. It will also list previous addresses and employers. Your credit report will also contain any public records such as collections, liens, judgments or bankruptcies. Your report will list all open accounts or charge cards which must be paid in full each month, other revolving accounts or credit cards, and installment loans. Each account will have a rating which shows whether it’s paid to date or is past due, as well as a 24-month history of late payments. Accounts that have been closed by creditors will also be noted.

How can I get a free copy of my credit report?

Effective September 1, 2005, you’re eligible for a free copy of your credit report under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act). The FACT Act requires the three major credit reporting companies to provide consumers with a free copy of their own credit report each year. You can visit or call 877-322-8228 to make your request. If you’re a victim of identity theft, you may be eligible to receive additional free credit reports.

You can also call the credit reporting companies directly, but there may be a charge.

Experian: 888-397-3742;

TransUnion: 800-888-4213;

Equifax: 800-997-2493;

Who do I contact if there are errors on my credit report?

If you’ve noticed inaccuracies on your credit report, you’ll need to contact the company that provided the report and request that the errors be corrected.