Check your credit report

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s credit reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to credit reporting companies.

A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy. National credit reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment or renting a home.

Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law – Other sites claiming free reports or credit scores are not part of the legally mandated free program. Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names and others have URLs purposely misspell in the hope you will mistype the name of the official site. and the nationwide credit reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from or any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably a scam.

Get a copy of your credit report and check for accuracy of the information included. All you need to provide is your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth. It will help guard against identity theft and any unwelcome surprises when you go to apply for a home or car loan, buy insurance or apply for a job.