What Information is in a Credit Report?
Simply put, your credit report is a compilation of data gathered by credit reporting agencies about you. This information may include: personal identification information, employment data, payment history, credit inquires, and public records. It is important to build a good credit history because information in a credit report impacts how much a person pays for loans and other credit, and sometimes whether or not a person can get credit. Insurance companies use the information in credit reports to determine how much to charge people for car and home insurance. Some employers and landlords also access credit reports when deciding to give a someone a job or rent an apartment.
Look at Your Credit Report
We recommend that people check their credit report at least once every year to make sure it is accurate, complete, and mistake free, and that an identity thief has not opened fraudulent accounts in their name. Under federal law, you can get a free credit report every year from each of the credit agencies—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You may order your free annual credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228, visiting the website www.annualcreditreport.com, or writing to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
Beware of Look-a-Like Websites
Avoid websites that charge you for your credit report. The official website for ordering your credit report is www.annualcreditreport.com. There is no other official website for ordering your free credit report. Many look-alike websites claim to offer free credit reports, when their real purpose is to sign you up for paid services. For example, a website run by one of the credit bureaus claims it offers free credit reports, but also enrolls people in “free trial” offers for credit monitoring services and, if a customer does not cancel within the 30-day free trial offer, the customer gets charged a recurring monthly fee.
Correct Errors in Your Report
According to a study recently released by the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"), one out of five people have errors on their credit reports. Mistakes can range from misspelled names to accounts that the consumer did not open. You should dispute such errors in writing with the company and the credit bureaus. Under federal law, credit bureaus must investigate disputes within 60 days and must remove all inaccuracies. If you disagree with the result of a credit bureau’s investigation, you may write a brief statement explaining your side of the story. At your request, this note will be included with future credit reports.
If a credit bureau refuses to correct inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated information on your credit report, we want to hear from you. In addition, you should file a complaint with the FTC as follows:
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20580
TTY: (866) 653-4261
The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office offers the following materials, which are designed to provide information to Minnesota citizens about credit reports: