By Seena Gressin
FTC Consumer Advocate
April 26, 2022
During Financial Literacy Month, we’ve focused on steps to protect your money by spotting and avoiding scams. But here’s another important way to help protect your wallet: regularly check your credit reports.
Through December 2022, everyone in the U.S. can get a free credit report each week from all three nationwide credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
By checking your credit reports, you’ll be able to see if someone is misusing your personal information to run up charges on your credit cards, get new credit or open a new account in your name, and steal your identity. The sooner you spot this fraud, the sooner you can take action to stop the harm and correct the errors. Follow these steps:
- Order your free credit reports. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228.
- Read the reports carefully. Do you recognize the accounts? Do they list credit applications? Did you apply for credit at those places? Check your personal information too. Are your name, address, and Social Security number correct?
- Dispute mistakes. Contact the credit bureau and the business that reported the information. Ask both to correct their records. Include as much detail as possible, plus copies of supporting documents, like payment records. Our sample dispute letters for credit bureaus and businesses can help.
If you don’t recognize an account, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the FTC and get a recovery plan. IdentityTheft.gov will also help you create a sworn Identity Theft Report that you can send to the credit bureaus to block identity theft-related debts from appearing on your credit report.
Visit FTC.gov/credit for more information about credit reports, scores, freezes and monitoring, then share what you learned during #FinancialLiteracyMonth. And if you spot a scam, please tell us about it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.