Do you check your credit report from each of the four credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union & Innovis) annually to look for errors and evidence of identity theft?

The FTC says: ” Your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. You want a copy of your credit report to:

• make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.

• help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number — to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.”

Beware that there is only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report from the three major credit bureaus you are entitled to under law: www.annualcreditreport.com. Do not go to their individual websites for your free report.

To order your free report from the forth bureau – Innovis, you do need to go to their website: http://www.innovis.com. You want to go to ‘Personal Services’ for their mail-in form. Innovis is more a data broker who sells your information creditors.

Always opt to have only the last four numbers of your Social Security Number on the report! The default is to have the entire SSN printed on the report. Personally I believe the default should be the last four numbers.

The free reports are available every 12 months. You can request your reports all at the same time, or one at a time every three months. By getting them at the same time, you can compare them. By spreading them out, you can watch for fraud over the entire year. However, if you find inaccurate information on one, you should order all the others. The other credit bureaus probably contain the same inaccurate information.

There are also other conditions that under federal law when you are entitled to a free report:

•  if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action.

•  if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days.

• if you’re on welfare.

•  if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) says your information at the credit bureaus must be 100% accurate. They must correct erroneous information or remove it from your credit report. However, over 75% of reports contain errors. So, how do you get it corrected?

First you need to let the offending credit bureau, in writing, what information is inaccurate. It is best to dispute the invalid information in writing, not via their websites. Only send copies of your supporting documents. Always send it Certified Mail with return receipt requested. You can get their dispute forms and what supporting documents to send from their websites. These websites will try to sell you a credit monitoring service. Do not do it. Keep focused on the dispute. Think about it and read their fine print, then come back later to order.

Equifax Information Services, LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
http://www.investigate.equifax.com

Experian
PO Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013
http://www.experian.com

TransUnion Consumer Solutions
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022-2000
http://www.transunion.com

Innovis
Attn: Consumer Assistance
P.O. Box 1640
Pittsburgh, PA 15230-1640
http://www.innovis.com

Start monitoring your credit information today to protect your credit and identity.

For more information you can visit:

Federal Trade Commission: http://www.FTC.com

Better Business Bureau: http://www.bbb.org

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About Bruce Demarest

Bruce Demarest is a Identity Theft Protection Specialist. He has designed and taught classes to educate individuals and businesses in identity theft risk management. The individuals have learned how to continuously monitor their financial identities from credit fraud, plus how to monitor their personal identifying information for unauthorized use. His business clients have become compliant with the federal & state privacy laws. He has conducted information security audits to identify their potential problems and has designed security policies, programs, and practices to address those problem areas.
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One Response to Do you check your credit report from each of the four credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union & Innovis) annually to look for errors and evidence of identity theft?

  1. Pingback: 10 Tips for Protecting Your Identity in 2012 | Bruce Demarest Creating Cultures of Security

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