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July-September 2006

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Your Credit Report
Amador Computer Users' Group,
Jackson, CA
by Richard Kennon
Editor of Bits and Bytes

How many of you have taken advantage of your opportunity to obtain a free credit report? There are three companies who maintain your credit information: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that each one provide you with a free report annually if you request it. There's the first catch-you must request it. That is not a bad catch since the process is easy.

You have the choice of ordering all three at the same time each year or spread them out and order one from each provider every four months. I am convinced this latter strategy is the best and I try to do just that except I forget!

The second catch is a little more sinister. You have and will receive spam offers to obtain your free report for you. These are scams. Avoid them. Do not respond toany such offer. There are only three safe paths to your free reports.

First, and easiest for all you computer savvy people, is to access http://annualcreditreport.com. Be very careful to spell it right because there a number bogus sites that are a close spelling that look just like this one. At this site you can order one or more reports from any of the three reporting agencies.

The second is to call 1-877-322-8228 and take care of it by phone.

The third way is to order a form from www.ftc.gov/credit. Fill it out and mail it in. I think it is a very good idea to do this on a regular basis. It will give you the opportunity to see if anyone has been accessing your records (an indication that someone is borrowing money using your name) and/or to find any mistakes in your records that might give you a headache if you are applying for credit.

There are ways to get these errors corrected. I did it once to correct my birth date. Not a big deal but I feel old enough without a boost from them. One last thing since I have a little space left. The reporting agencies are not required to give you your score that you hear so much about. The agencies will offer you the opportunity to purchase your score. My thought on this is, if the record is clear and all my former debts are marked "paid on time," then my score is probably pretty good and I don't need to know it. Your choice.

Submitted by Charlotte Semple




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