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Financial Literacy

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Credit Reports

Credit FAQs

  Where do I get my annual credit report?

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the only source authorized to provide free credit reports is You will need to provide information such as your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth.

Other websites that claim to offer "free" credit reports are not part of the legally mandated free credit report program (no matter how catchy their jingles may be). Many services that claim to be free will ask for your banking information and will begin charging you after a trial period. Never provide a credit reporting service with your banking information.

  Why do I need a copy of my credit report?

Your credit is like your shadow. It follows you throughout your life and plays a role in life events like renting an apartment, finding a new job, and making a major purchase.

  • Make sure your information is up to date before you apply for a loan, a job, or make a large purchase. Your credit score will impact your rate of interest and could impact whether or not you qualify.
  • Protect yourself against identity theft. Analyzing your credit reports will allow you to spot suspicious activity and report fraud.

  How can I monitor ongoing changes to my credit?

To keep tabs on updates to your credit and to maintain your credit score throughout the year, you can use a free service like Credit Karma. While it will not give you your comprehensive credit report like, it will alert you to updates and provide you with your current credit score. If you use a service like this, be sure it is truly free. If you are asked for your credit card information, you will probably be charged a fee.

  What do I do if I notice errors or fraud on my credit report?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides details on what you can do if you discover you are a victim of fraud or identity theft.

  What is the Fair Reporting Act (FCRA)?

"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. Nationwide 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."

Source: Federal Trade Commision. (2013). "Free Credit Reports."

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