Pinellas County, Florida -- The Better Business Bureau in Clearwater/St. Pete tells 10 News that consumers should check their credit report annually to prevent unexpected problems from cropping up.
The organization says pulling your credit report to ensure the information being reported is accurate, complete and up-to-date. When looking at your credit report, look for these red flags of identity theft:
- Any inquiries not initiated by you;
- Any debts reported that are not yours; or
- Contact information, such as your address, that was changed without your approval
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.
A credit report contains important information that can affect whether you can get a loan, and how much you will have to pay in order to borrow money. The information contained in a credit report is sold to and used by creditors, insurers and other businesses so they can evaluate applications for credit, insurance or renting a home.
Consumers looking to pull their free credit reports should visit annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized source for free annual credit reports under federal law. On this website, consumers can request their credit report from each of the three reporting agencies online, by phone or through mail.
BBB offers these tips for pulling your annual credit report:
- Be wary of unsolicited emails and pop-ups. AnnualCreditReport.com does not approach consumers via email, telemarketing or direct mail solicitations. Instead, go directly to AnnualCreditReport.com to request your free report.
- Pull your child's credit report. As child identity theft remains a national problem, it can be just as imperative to pull your child's report as it is to pull your own. While the credit reporting agencies do not knowingly maintain credit files on minor children, you can contact the credit reporting agencies directly to see what information, if any, they have about your child.
- Dispute inaccuracies. If you find inaccurate information on your credit report immediately contact the reporting agency you pulled the report from and file a dispute. Inaccurate, derogatory information can lower your credit score, and in some cases, may indicate possible fraudulent activity.
BBB Press Release