GOLDEN, Colo (CBS4) In this age of identity theft, fraud experts agree that you really need to actively keep track of your credit. Federal law says that everyone can draw one credit report from each reporting agency each year for free.
“It’s been showed by research across the United States that 50-percent of Americans have some kind of error on their credit reports,” said Cary Johnson, a fraud investigator for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
Jefferson County District Attorney spokesperson Pam Russell agreed to go through her credit report with CBS4 as an example of what you should be looking for. She found a mistake almost immediately.
“My mortgage information is correct, but my monthly payment is not correct,” Russell said.
“You want to write them, and you want to correct that because you want your information about your mortgage to be correct,” Johnson told Russell.
You want all the information on your credit report to be correct and you want to make sure it’s YOUR information. This is the first place you may find out that someone else has opened an account in your name.
“If there’s an error on a credit report again by federal law, the consumer has a right to send a letter to the credit reporting agencies,” Johnson explained.
You will need to send documentation that proves you are who you say you are, like your driver’s license and social security number. You’ll also need to send adequate proof that the misinformation on the report does not belong to you. You should work with the reporting agency in writing.
Getting your credit report can also be tricky. You never want to pay for it. Federal law says you are entitled to a free credit report from each reporting agency every year. But when you search “get my credit report” on the Web.. several Web sites pop up that charge to get your reports for you. Others will give you your report for free but then automatically sign you up for a credit monitoring service that you’ll have to pay for. The best place to get your credit reports is annualcreditreport.com. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s office provided us with this step-by-step guide to work your way through the Web site. You should be able to download your report in about 10 minutes.
Credit reports can be hard to read. It’s helpful to go through them with a professional. You can do just that at the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Community Safety Fair. The fair is Saturday, August 27th from 9am to 1pm at the Jefferson County Fair Grounds.
–Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith