Credit Reports

Have you checked your credit report lately? You have an important role to play to ensure the data about you maintained by consumer and credit reporting companies is accurate and complete. 

The nationwide credit reporting agencies are required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, upon your request, once every 12 months. You can expand this reach by seeking one out from each organization, once every quarter.  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises consumers who order their credit reports online to use because it is the only authorized online source for consumers to obtain their credit report. The FTC has received complaints from consumers who responded to advertisements for obtaining their credit card report and found these websites either charged for the service or required the consumer to purchase other services in order to get their "free" credit report.

You should know that consumer reporting agencies collect consumer data on more than just credit.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has put together a list of all consumer reporting companies who do employment and medical screening, collect information for utilities and retail businesses, and provide reports for landlords on prospective renters.  You can find the full list and report HERE .

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) provides you with certain rights regarding the information contained in your credit report.  If the information in your report is inaccurate or incomplete, there are steps you can take to address the problem:

  1. Send a letter (certified mail, return receipt requested) to each credit reporting company detailing what information is inaccurate. You may also be able to do this online with the credit reporting companies.
  2. Send a letter to the information provider that you dispute information on your credit report.

The Federal Trade Commission has more information on correcting errors, including sample dispute letters.