The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

A variety of situations are likely to appear in your life where you will need your credit report taken into account. These can include when you go about applying for a credit card or even when you’re applying for your next big job. Even something like getting an apartment might require a credit report, as a lot of landlords these days demand them to understand if their new tenant is a reliable source with solid financial backing.

A credit report itself is full of information which is a wealth to anyone that needs to know about you. It has your mailing addresses from all throughout your life, as well as your paying habits, employment history and so on. In short: if somebody needs to know about you on an official level, it is a goldmine.

This being said, a lot of people remain clueless on how to secure one. And that’s in the days of the internet, where almost everything you can dream of is just a click away.

There are three major consumer reporting companies:  TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. They have all come together to give to consumers a main website from which they can get their report, as well as a toll-free number and a mailing address to send inquires to. The website itself is  www.annualcreditreport.com.

The form needed for going through with the procedure is conveniently found on the FTC’s website, too, which you will need to fill out in order to get your report.

All of this is in response to the government’s Fair Credit Reporting Act. Through that act (like the CARD Act of 2009) you can get a free copy of your report every year from each individual company. So, if you wanted to, you could get three copies per year.

Upon getting a credit report, be sure to check for errors. These are totally possible and if it should happen, take action ASAP. Call the company up and dispute them; it is YOUR reputation on the line and you are entitled to do so.

Also, getting a copy of your credit report is a good weapon in fighting the war against identity theft. If your identity has been compromised at any time in your life, it will appear on there. Or you might find out that someone has used your identity to open a new account. If they happen to miss payments on said account, you are the one facing the penalties.

That could leave you without a job, a mortgage, a car, a home- whatever it is you were looking for in the first place.

One last fast fact:  an employer can never see your report without your official consent.

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