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Checking Your Credit – What You Need to Know

Check Your Credit Report Annually: Reviewing your credit report can help protect your credit history from mistakes, errors, or signs of identity theft. The DFPI strongly encourages you to pull your report annually, so there are no surprises when you need to open a new account or use your credit for an important purchase, such as a car or home. Federal law gives you the right to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Order your free annual credit reports from all three reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion):

Identity Theft: Have you been the victim of identity theft? Follow these steps right away to stop any further misuse of your stolen personal information:

  • Call the companies where you know the fraud occurred.
  • Place a fraud alert and get your credit reports.
  • Report identity theft with the FTC at IdentityTheft.gov.
  • Create a Personal Recovery Plan.
  • File a report with your local police enforcement.

For more information about what to do when you have been a victim of identity theft, read the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Recovery Steps for Identity Theft.

Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts: Credit freezes and fraud alerts can help protect you from identity theft or prevent further misuse of your personal information if has been stolen. Accounts being opened that you did not initiate or imposters ordering items that get reported to your credit report is often a precursor to identity theft. Putting a freeze or fraud alert on your credit is an effective way to stop new accounts from being opened. And it’s easy to unfreeze your credit when you want to open a new account. For details, read the FTC’s What to Know about Credit Freezes and Fraud Alerts.

Fixing Your Credit: If you find incorrect or incomplete information on your credit report, you can fix mistakes or remove outdated items on your credit report for free. Contact the credit reporting agency and the business that supplied them the information about you to initiate making corrections to your report. Be careful when engaging with “credit repair” companies, as many are scams. For more information about how to fix your credit, read the FTC’s Fixing Your Credit FAQs.

For more information on credit reports, read the FTC’s Free Credit Reports.