For years, consumers have been encouraged to monitor their credit reports annually in order to stay on top of their credit and financial security.
First, you need to understand that there are three different major credit reporting agencies (CRAs) — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, in addition to many smaller, industry-specific CRAs. The three major CRAs will be the ones that almost all consumers should focus on. Following legislation passed by Congress in 2003, all US consumers are entitled to one free copy of their credit reports each year, from each of the three major CRAs.
Not too long ago, ordering a copy of your credit report was not a simple or rapid process. Now, however, the agencies have adopted technology to help consumers monitor their credit and head off any troubling findings in a much faster way. Experian, for example, maintains a full suite of consumer tools on its website, Experian.com, to help the public check their Experian credit reports and more.
To access your Experian credit report for free, visit the website and enter your information. This process will not require a credit card and the credit report will be available immediately for you to review on your computer.
That’s the first step. From there, look over the results carefully for errors or signs of fraudulent activity. Is the spelling of your name accurate? Are there open credit cards in your name that you didn’t apply for? Are there personal or home loans, rental agreements or automobile loans that don’t belong to you? If so, you can take action to correct mistakes and cases of fraud.
Fortunately, Experian lets you dispute information on your Experian credit report easily and conveniently on its website in the Dispute Center portal. There are prompts to walk you through the process you can select the information to dispute right from the screen with just a few clicks, and you receive the results of the investigation within 30 days. The website is also mobile-optimized so you can use your smartphone or tablet to conduct the transaction and upload documents using the device’s camera roll. While you’re waiting for feedback from Experian on the issues you’ve disputed, it’s a good idea to check all of your bank account statements, credit card statements and other sensitive accounts to see if someone has used your existing accounts without your permission (there is a separate process if you have had your existing accounts compromised).
Experian & Identity Theft Resource Center recognize that navigating your way through a case of identity theft is difficult. That is why we have worked together to provide resources to help you. By arming you with some steps you may want to take and tips to help you should you become a victim of identity theft, we hope we can make the process easier for victims of identity theft. For more information, visit https://www.idtheftcenter.org/Experian.
Experian proudly sponsors and provides financial support to the ITRC. The ITRC may feature certain products offered by its sponsors. We believe these products, as well as similar products generally available in the market, may be appropriate for use by consumers or businesses to reduce the risk of fraud and/or identity theft. We do not test these products and therefore do not endorse or guarantee the performance or efficacy of any particular product.