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Check Your Credit Report

When trying to get out of debt and improve your financial situation, checking your credit report, regularly, is crucial. It allows you you to monitor the progress of your efforts, notifies you of outstanding issues for which you may not be aware, and it can be an early indicator of identity theft. Further, credit is being used for more purposes these days, including: employment screenings, insurance coverage, and security clearances (if you need that sort of thing). Essentially, everyone is starting to use your credit as a judge of character, whether you will have distractions, that it may indicate irresponsibility, or that you may have a conflict of interest.

You should check your credit report annually. Checking your credit report more frequently, including applying for credit, will hurt your FICO score (the score which is derived from your credit report).

There are three credit reporting agencies (CRAs) that are used to report credit issues. You can use an online credit reporting service, which you may be able to get all three credit reports from one of the agencies (called a 3-in-1 Credit Report). Also, they may be able to furnish your FICO score, as well. The three credit reporting agencies are:

P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241; (800) 685-1111

Experian (formerly TRW)
P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013; (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)

Trans Union
P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022; (800) 916-8800.

You must dispute anything on your credit report that is false, misleading, or out of date. Below is a template for writing the credit reporting agencies to dispute discrepancies on your credit report (and remember to do this with each CRA that has the issue):


Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zip Code

Complaint Department
Name of Credit Reporting Agency
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing to dispute the following information in my file. The items I dispute are also encircled on the attached copy of the report I received.

(Identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.)

This item is (inaccurate or incomplete) because (describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why). I am requesting that the item be deleted (or request another specific change) to correct the information.

Enclosed are copies of (use this sentence if applicable and describe any enclosed documentation, such as payment records, court documents) supporting my position. Please reinvestigate this (these) matter(s) and (delete or correct) the disputed item(s) as soon as possible.


Your name

Enclosures: (List what you are enclosing)

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