Identity theft is becoming more prevalent. AARP, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion co-sponsored a report by Javelin Strategy & Research that found in 2021, 42 million US consumers were victims of identity fraud. This represents a lot of headaches. With identity theft, it is important to be proactive and regularly review your credit report for questionable transactions or accounts you don’t recognize.
There are a lot of websites that offer free credit reports – there is only one that is authorized by the US government – annualcreditreport.com. Please be cautious, other websites offering free credit reports may only give you the “free report” if you purchase other products or services or may bill you for services that then need to be cancelled.
On annualcreditreport.com you can pull a free copy of your credit report every twelve months from all three credit agencies. If you want to continuously monitor your credit throughout the year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau mentions pulling one credit report at a time every four months. That may mean pulling Equifax annually in January, Experian each May and TransUnion in September.
You will need to supply information such as your name, address, Social Security number and birthday. Not everyone feels comfortable inputting personal information online – that is no problem as there are other ways to pull these credit reports – you are able to do so by phone at (877)322-8228 or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form found here: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/manualRequestForm.action and mailing this to
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
When you review your credit report you want to look for changes to your data such as:
- incorrect or incomplete name, address or phone numbers
- wrong Social Security number
- inaccurate employment information
- accounts that you do not recognize
- closed accounts that are marked as open
- accounts incorrectly labeled past due
- incorrect limits or balances
- inquiries that look suspicious
- anything that looks incorrect.
Credit reports are important as they are examined by lenders, employers, and even insurance companies. Lenders use credit reports to determine if you qualify for a loan and the interest rate of that loan. Like lenders, Insurance Companies will look at the credit report in determining if you qualify for coverage and the rate you will pay. Employers may use the credit report findings in a decision to hire. Utility companies even look at credit reports when determining if they will provide services.
Regularly pulling your credit report and reviewing it will help reduce the potential for identity theft to go unchecked and linger. This mindful monitoring could financially benefit you by way of lower interest rates when you borrow, lower insurance rates and less problems.