Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Have you checked your credit report?

In spite of the media being overwhelmed with private ads and public service announcements about checking our credit reports we still put it off, and keep putting it off, until something disastrous happens or seems to have happened.

For the most part it seems that people regard checking their credit report in a similar vein with getting their teeth cleaned: a necessary evil. There are probably too many reasons why this is the case to list in one post so we’ll just gloss over the topic by saying that most of us fear the worst even when we’re fairly certain everything is okay. But finding out early there’s a problem brewing would be really helpful; and yet, we don’t want to know, we don’t want to deal with it.

While this is free – be sure you go to the correct site and not a private or spam site – it takes a chunk of time online and the right information to get access to your annual credit report. You need to know account numbers and names of the reporting events and sometimes payments or balances, some of these include closed accounts; so get your stuff together first and then find an uninterrupted block of time at a secure broadband connection where you have printer access.

At the site you can request one or all three agency reports. There are also instructions for submitting disputes and clarifying statements to the agencies. If an agency can’t satisfactorily confirm you are who you present yourself to be, you may have to print a mail-in form to receive a hard copy; and follow the submission document requirements for the hard copy.

See, it’s not that hard; just a minor blip in your day to put your mind at ease. And once you have those reports and have read them be sure to file them in a secure location for future reference and comparison.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I had been stalling on getting this year's version until a very creepy spam email crossed my path. All was well, but all the same don't wait for trouble.

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