Information in your credit report can be used to decide whether to give you a job, a loan, insurance, or rent a house. You can find out what is in your credit report. Even if you don't think there will be a problem, it is important to check your report. Often, people need to correct information that's wrong (if you're confused with someone with a similar name or because of identify theft).

You should order your credit report once a year, especially, if you are looking for work, so you know what an employer would see.

Be careful of any offers to "repair your credit" -- they're almost always scams. For more, go to the Resource Box on this page.

You have a right to a free credit report:

  • once a year
  • within 60 days when a company uses the information to take a negative action against you (such as getting denied for a credit card, loan, insurance, or a job)
  • if you're on welfare
  • if you're unemployed and will be looking for a job within 60 days
  • if you're a victim of fraud or identity theft

There are three major credit bureaus that make reports:

  • Equifax 
  • Trans Union Corporation
  • Experian (also called TRW)

There is only website that is authorized to send out free credit reports and will give you reports from all 3 credit bureaus (www.annualcreditreport.com). Be very careful of other websites claiming to offer "free credit reports or scores" -- most are traps that end up costing money.

You have rights to get information in your credit reports corrected if it is wrong.

The laws: Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

                     Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act

Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. If your rights are violated, you can file a complaint or file a lawsuit.