BOSTON (CBS) – You may think your credit report is perfect because you have never been late or missed any of your loan payments, but recent studies have shown that perhaps as many as 50% of all credit reports have errors in them, errors that could prevent you from qualifying for a loan.

Today, your credit report and credit score are used as measuring tools for more than simply applying for a loan. A potential employer may ask your permission to review your credit report. This is especially true in the financial industry, and if you refuse, your ability to land the job will be in jeopardy.

When you purchase life insurance or a homeowner’s policy many insurance companies will want to see your credit report as to see if you make payments in a timely fashion. And some auto insurers are basing auto insurance rates on a person’s credit report and credit score.

Landlords want to check prospective tenants’ credit scores. Whether you’re going to be able to pay the rent or not is foremost on their minds.

Credit cards that have never been formally cancelled still appear on your credit report as an open line of credit, even if you have not used them in years. These can potentially cause problems because if you are applying for a loan such as a school loan or a home mortgage they will be entered into the credit formula as debt even though there is nothing owed on them. You still have the ability to charge them to their limit.

Your first line of defense against identity theft is to annually check your credit report for any fraudulent activities.

Laws now require credit reporting agencies to give you a free copy of your credit report annually. The easiest way to get it is to do it online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Your credit score is not free. To get a copy of your credit score log onto My Fico.

One more thing: Another reason you want to check your credit report and probably in today’s environment the most important reason is to check for identity theft. If someone has stolen your identity and is using your Social Security number the bogus credit cards will begin to show up on your credit report.

And while you are checking your credit history inquire about your credit score. More and more creditors are using credit scores as a measurement factor in deciding if you should get a loan and what interest rate to charge you. Contact MyFico for your scores or go directly to the reporting agencies.

There are three major reporting agencies, and they do not share information with each other, so you need to check your history from all three agencies. If you find errors you can write to the agencies explaining the error and they have 30 days to correct the error. Send any supporting documentation as well. You’ll want to check your report again after you have sent the corrections to be sure the changes were made.

Equifax
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
800-685-1111
www.equifax.com

Experian
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
888-397-3742
www.experian.com

TransUnion
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
800-888-4213
www.transunion.com

It is very easy to get suckered into buying their monthly monitoring services. Beware!

Money Conference Alert!!

On October 11th I will be the key note speaker at The Money Conference which is a FREE one-day event presented by The Office of Massachusetts State Treasury. It will be held at UMASS Boston and the first 500 registrants will get a free copy of my newest book, Money, Your Personal Finance Guide.

There will be afternoon classes on everything from budgeting to buying a house. The Financial Planning Association of Boston will have volunteer financial planners there to help answer questions. You can set up a meeting with a Money Mentor when you register. If you have questions about the conference, contact Sheila O’Loughlin of the State Treasury at (617) 367-6900 ext 615.

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