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Financial Aid >Money Matters >You and Your Credit

 

Your Free Credit Report | Resolving Issues | Identity Theft

 

-You and Your Credit -


Your credit report includes information about you, including personal information about where you live, how you pay your bills, whether you've been sued, arrested, or if you have ever filed for bankruptcy. It includes financial information, such as your payment history, amount of debt, credit history, types of credit, etc. Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRA's) use the information in your credit report to each calculate your Credit Score. For more information about understanding credit scores please visit www.myfico.com/CreditEducation/.

Your credit report and credit score can affect all aspects of your life. It is important to make sure your credit report is accurate. Whether you are trying to get a home loan, car loan, insurance, credit cards, or even a cell phone, a lender will review your credit score and determine how much and what terms (down payment, interest rate, etc.) to offer you. The higher credit score you have, the better your offer. Begin by requesting a copy of your Credit Report from the top three nationwide CRA's below. Then review and resolve any inaccuracies.

Equifax Credit

Trans Union LLC

Experian

PO Box 740241

PO Box 1000

PO Box 9600

Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

Chester, PA 19022

Allen, TX 75013

1-800-685-1111

1-800-888-4213

1-800-311-4769

www.equifax.com

www.tuc.com

www.experian.com



 

-Your Free Credit Report-

A new amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion - to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

You can access free your free annual credit reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com. You may also request your credit reports via phone and by mail. Please visit the federal trade commission's website: http://www.ftc.gov/credit for more information.

Please note that although the credit reports are free, your credit scores are not. CRA's are not required to disclose your credit scores for free. A small fee may be requested for that additional service.



 

-Resolving Issues/Errors-

Contact the lending agency directly with any errors (advisably in writing). Depending on the severity of the error, it may take several months to update your credit report. Please make sure to obtain written documentation of any resolved errors. You may also need to contact the consumer reporting agency to clear errors off your report. When writing a letter, remember to include:

1. Full name, including middle initial and

generation, such as Jr., Sr., II, etc.

5. Any previous address(es) including

zip codes for the past 2 years

2. Social Security Number

6. Phone number

3. Date of Birth

7. Signature

4. Current address with zip code

8. Applicable fee(s)



 

-Identity Theft/ Mistaken Identity-

Identity theft has become more prevalent in the era of computers. Although you can't control whether or not you will become a victim, here are a few tips to minimize your risk of identity theft.

- Password Protect Your Accounts, especially your credit card, bank, and phone accounts. Avoid using easily accessible information like your mother's maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers.

- Deposit your outgoing mail in post office collection boxes, rather than in an unsecured mailbox.

- Treat your mail and trash carefully. Shred items with your personal information on it. This includes any receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks and bank statements, expired charge cards that you're discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail.

- Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary. Ask to use other types of identifiers. If your state uses your Social Security number as your driver's license number, as is true in Washington, DC, ask to substitute it for another number. The same applies if your health insurance company uses your Social Security number as your policy number.

- Don't give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you've initiated the contact or are sure you know who you're dealing with. Identity thieves have posed as representatives of banks, internet service providers (ISPs), and even government agencies. Confirm that you are dealing with a legitimate organization. Check an organization's website by typing its URL in the address line, rather than cutting and pasting it. Call customer service using the number listed on your account statement or in the telephone book.

- Be cautious when responding to promotions. Identity thieves may create phony promotional offers to get you to give them your personal information.

For more information about protecting yourself, minimizing risk and steps to resolve fraudulent reports, please visit the Federal Trade Commission's website at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/.

 

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