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How to Monitor Your Credit Report

Your credit report is an important document, but too many people wait until there is a problem to start worrying about it. If you are gainfully employed and pay your bills on time, you probably have never given a second thought to Your Credit Reportwhat's contained in your credit report. But if you experience an unexpected job loss and suddenly find yourself getting behind in some of your monthly payments, your credit report becomes another factor to deal with.

Financial experts recommend that the time to check on your credit report is when you are not having money troubles. You can obtain a copy of your most recent credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Or if you are turned down for rental housing, employment, or a loan because of derogatory information contained in your credit report, you are eligible to receive a free copy of the report using the Websites or phone numbers listed below.

PO Box 105873, Atlanta, GA 30348
(800) 685-1111, (770) 612-3200
(800) 548-4548 (residents of Georgia, Vermont and Massachussetts)
(800) 233-7654 (residents of Maryland)

Trans-Union Corporation
Consumer Disclosure Center, PO Box 390, Springfield, PA 19064-0390
(800) 916-8800, (800) 682-7654, (714) 680-7292,
(800) 888-4213 (if you have been declined credit)

PO Box 949, Allen, TX 75013-0949

National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Offers free or low-cost services to help you get control of your finances and make repayment arrangements with creditors.

Here is a checklist of items to look for to make sure your credit report is accurate:

  • Make sure all of the personal information is correct. Sometimes credit information from someone with the same last name as yours may be in your file.

  • Review the report for errors. If it still contains a listing of a department store charge card from 20 years ago that you no longer use, you need to write to have the account closed.

  • If there is an unfavorable report made by a creditor who has made a mistake, it can be corrected; the law is on your side. However, if you have been behind in some monthly payments because you were laid off, then the report can still stay there. You are entitled by law to write a 100-word document explaining the reason for any delinquency. This should satisfy any future credit applications that you make.
Good credit is a goal you should always work towards. After all, your credit rating is a record of your past performance in how you pay your bills. So pay them on time, and if you encounter temporary difficulty, contact your creditors and work with them.

See also: Managing Debt, Home Budgeting, and Credit Cards

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