Be Aware Of Your Credit Information
Anyone who has ever applied for a mortgage, loan, or credit card knows how influential your credit can be, so keeping up on your credit report regularly is wise. Doing this will it let you know where your credit stands and ensure your credit information stays accurate. That being said, your credit report is one of your most valuable and sensitive financial documents.
Federal law provides you with a lot of protection, even from your friends and family, but there are still plenty of people who can get their hands on it. So, how do you get your credit report, and who exactly can see your files? Here is some helpful information that will tell you everything you need to know about your credit report.
SEE ALSO: Pinging Your Credit Report: The Consequences
Getting Your Credit Report Is Easy
Despite all those website commercials with claims of free credit reports, they will eventually charge you for something. The only truly free place to get your credit report is from the
Thanks to the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion created a joint venture to run the website so that consumers have free access to their credit report every 12 months.
Once at the site, you will be asked to answer a series of multiple choice questions regarding your personal information, where you lived, past phone numbers, business and financial institutions with which you may have conducted business, and other things along those lines. Dont worry, these questions are asked to establish that you are really who you say you are, and not some imposter trying to get hold of your personal information.
Simply provide the information requested, and they will give you your report for free. However, if you want to know your actual credit score
, that will cost you some cash at one of the for-pay sites.
Checking Your Report Regularly Is Beneficial
As mentioned before, checking your report annually will keep you informed on how your credit stands and help you make sure that your information is correct.
It may also help you catch signs of identity theft. If you notice any type of error on your report, contact the company immediately, and follow up in writing with copies of supporting documents.
Since annualcreditreport.com provides the services of three different companies, one strategy for gaining access to your credit information more frequently is to pull your report from a different company once every four months. Doing this will let you view your credit report three times a year, instead of one, allowing you to see if anything new has been reported on a more persistent basis.
Know Who Else Can See Your Credit Files
Along with knowing how to get your credit report, its also critical to know who else can gain access to your information. For the most part, if you grant clear written permission, credit reporting agencies will share your information with anyone you wish. Otherwise, without a legitimate reason and proper consent, no one else can view your credit files,
this even includes your spouse or any other family member.
You should know, though, that legitimate reason can trump your written consent. This means that there are people that can get hold of your information even without your permission, if they have a legitimate business need.
Collection agencies, for example, can view your files if they are trying to collect a debt you owe. Others who may also access your files are banks, landlords, utility companies, lenders and insurance providers with whom you do business, and agencies evaluating your eligibility for government benefits. Credit agencies will also be obligated to provide copies of your report if ordered by the court.
You Are Entitled To Your Rights
Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates how credit reporting agencies handle your credit information, you have the right to sue anybody who gains access to your credit reports without valid permission or legal justification.
To learn more about your specific rights under the FCRA, visit the websites of the Federal Trade Commission
or the Federal Reserve
SEE ALSO: Identity Theft Goldmine: Magnetic Stripe Credit Cards
Now that you have a better understanding about your credit report you will hopefully be more aware of your credit and the information that goes along with it. Your credit report can determine whether you get approved for loans, credit cards, leases, and even your job, so make sure that your information is always accurate and on the up and up.