Do you monitor your credit? If not, you may want to start by marking your calendar each year for your free credit report. There are benefits to self-monitoring, and it is a good idea to adopt the mind-set of scheduling monthly, quarterly or annual reviews.
The best way to detect identity theft is to check your credit report regularly, according to the Fair and Accurate Transactional Act (FACTA). If you suspect identify theft, you can request a free credit report. Erroneous information of any kind on your credit report, including late payments and collection actions, makes self-monitoring all the more necessary. Catching fraud early enables you to more quickly regain your financial health and protect your financial profile because credit scores are important and utilized by many entities.
There are times when you may have disputes with creditors, and you need to make sure that the dispute has been resolved and reported according to the terms of the agreement. When this kind of situation occurs, you can also request a free credit report to review the actions reported by the creditor. If you still disagree with an item after it has been disputed, you may send a brief statement, not to exceed 100 words, explaining the nature of your dispute.
Your statement will become part of your credit file and will be disclosed each time that your credit file is accessed. Why is this important? Including statements is essential because when you are looking for a job while unemployed, the last thing you need is erroneous or adverse actions being reported by the Big Three credit reporting agencies: Transunion, Experian and Equifax. Landing your job should be your first concern, not cleaning up your credit report. However, if you find yourself in this situation, a free credit report is available to you upon your request.
There are three ways to request your free report:
* Visit www.annualcreditreport.com
* Call (877) 322-8228
* Complete the annual credit report request form and mail to: P. O. Box 105281, Atlanta, Ga., 30348-5281. For a copy of the mail-in form, log on to www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/requestformfinal.pdf.
Valerie Samuel is a business and finance expert and author with more than 20 years experience in business development and banking. Email your questions or participate in this forum by submitting inquiries to [email protected] or calling (212) 292-5127 or visit her website www.valeriesamuel.com for more information.