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BBB Tip of the Week: Credit reports

Sun., Nov. 11, 2012, midnight

These days, your credit report affects your ability to get house and car loans at decent interest rates and a host of other things. Some employers even do a background check that includes this information. Do you know what your reports say about you?

 The three major credit reporting agencies in the United States are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – and you are entitled to one free report from each agency per year. At the BBB, we recommend ordering one copy every four months. That way, you get a picture of your credit spaced throughout the year. And it’s always free.

 Now the FTC is offering new videos, in English and Spanish, explaining why your credit report is important and advising you on what to do if a report contains inaccurate information.

  • To order your credit report, you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com or 1-877-322-8228. The FTC says www.annualcreditreport.com is the only authorized source for consumers to access their credit reports online for free.

 Not only have I run across a lot of sites out there that charge, but you should know that your free report does not include your “FICO” score. That’s that number that runs up into the 800s – the higher the number, the better your score. It’s my understanding that you will have to pay for that if you want to know it.

 But the free report does contain information on your debt to credit ratio, your rental history, student loans, and basics like name and SSN. If you call Equifax, Experian or TransUnion (the telephone number goes to the Central Source so you can request all three reports at once if you want), they will ask you for your name, date of birth and SSN. This is to verify that you have the right to the information you’re requesting.

 If you’re not sure, call the BBB. We can verify the number for you and answer any questions you may have.

 For more information, in English and Spanish, read the FTC’s  Free Annual Credit Reports.

 For more information or to report scams: Visit the BBB website at www.bbb.org. Call (509)455-4200 or (800) 356-1007.

Holly Doering, BBB editor



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