It’s important to review a copy of your credit report on a regular basis to improve your credit, spot signs of identity theft, and dispute errors that may negatively affect your credit score and creditworthiness.
Obtaining a copy of your credit report is free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
3 things checking your report helps you do:
- Verify accuracy
If you spot inaccurate information about an account or any judgments against you that negatively affect your credit, contact both the creditor and the reporting credit bureau to correct the error. If you see an unfamiliar account on your credit report, you can investigate and take measures such as placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit.
- Dispute errors
If you see an error on your identifying information, contact the credit bureau that issued the report to request a correction. If you spot an error in your account information, contact both the company that provided the information and the credit bureau that issued the credit report.
You can dispute errors online or by mail with all three major credit bureaus by filling out each bureau’s dispute form. To make contacting the company that reported inaccurate information easier, you can use the sample dispute letter on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website. If the company corrects the error, it must notify the credit bureaus that it reported the inaccurate information to, so they can update your credit report.
- Detect fraud
When you review your credit report, watch for unfamiliar accounts fraudulently opened under your name. Also, look for any “hard inquiries,” requests for access to your credit report, from lenders that you didn’t contact for credit.
If you suspect fraud on an unfamiliar account, contact the lender directly, asking them to confirm the account. If the lender can’t confirm, ask them to send a letter to each credit bureau reporting that account, asking for the information to be removed. Also, place a free one-year fraud alert — which notifies creditors that they must take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit—on your credit report with each credit bureau to prevent further fraud.
Because so many businesses use your credit report to make decisions about you, it’s important that you routinely check your credit report each year. It will give you greater peace of mind and give you a benchmark of your creditworthiness.
Fulton Bank, N.A. Member FDIC