You really should review your credit report every twelve months. Why? And how do you fix reporting errors? Read on to get the answers.

I can get my credit report for free. So what?

Landlords, car dealers, merchants, banks, credit unions—all of them review what’s known as your credit report to see if you are good at paying your debts. Over the many years that credit reporting services (called credit bureaus) have been around, they got pretty good at knowing just about all there is to know about your credit history. But sometimes they make mistakes in reporting that activity. And their mistakes can cost you – big time.

For example, a credit bureau may have you down as having a store credit card that you barely remember having. Even if the old account has no balance it can still adversely affect your ability to get a loan. Lenders consider its “available balance” when they study your financial situation. They may decide that you have too much debt, even if it’s debt you don’t know you have! For this reason, it is often best to completely close, or cancel, any account that you do not plan to use. Chances are pretty good that if you haven’t checked your credit report, those “open and forgotten” credit accounts are sitting there waiting for the right moment to cause a problem for you.

But another, bigger reason to review your credit report would be to make sure that no one has stolen your identity and opened an account (or accounts) that you know nothing about.

To make matters even scarier, criminals have fake websites that offer to provide a free credit report. The real purpose of the site is to collect enough information to steal your identity and/or your money.

How do I fix errors?

You may find that your credit report contains misspellings of your name or other incorrect items. To dispute an error on your credit report, contact both the credit reporting company and the company that provided the information. You should clearly identify each mistake, state the facts, explain why you are disputing the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. Some mistakes can quite literally ruin your credit worthiness. So be careful to find mistakes and stay with it if you need to get something fixed!

Here’s where to go for all the information you need

Here are the “big three” web pages you need to keep on top of your credit report and to respond to threats:

  1. When Should I Review My Credit Report? – this page provides all the links you need to get contact information and report errors.
  2. Free Credit Reports – this page has detailed answers to just about all the questions you can think to ask about your credit report. From “Where do I get them?” to “Who do I talk to?”, get what you need from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Information website.
  3. Peoples Bank Customer Security – this page provides the quick access information to report fraud, lost or stolen cards and how to respond to online banking security threats. The bank has spent a lot of money to both protect customer information and offer customer solutions. This site will provide information about those resources.