For consumers, ensuring that one’s credit remains in good standing goes beyond paying mortgage, auto loans, credit card bills and other financial obligations on time each month. Consumers should also be knowledgeable about the information contained in their reports and whether it is accurate and complete.

Under federal law, all consumers are entitled to obtain one free credit report disclosure every 12 months from each of the 3 national consumer reporting agencies, as well as under other special circumstances. Credit report disclosures list certain information that only the consumer can see, including promotional and account review inquires and some accounts that may have been suppressed from appearing at a creditor’s request.

Credit report disclosures are divided into sections such as the following:

    • Personal Information: Name, Social Security Number, Current and Past Addresses and Employment History.
    • Summary: Overview of the content within the credit report, including public records data such as court judgments or tax liens.
    • Account History: Details on whether timely payments were made on credit cards, mortgage and auto loans. Also, how high balances are on credit cards relative to the credit limits for each.
    • Inquiries by creditors: Summary of inquiries into credit history that occur when applying for new credit.
    • Creditor Contacts: Contact details for creditors listed on the credit report, as well as a consumer statement if provided for clarification about an item appearing in the report in the past.

Free annual credit report disclosures can be requested at www.annualcreditreport.com.

Consumers should check all items appearing in each section of the disclosures, including the information in the personal section (e.g., whether the name is spelled correctly or the address is accurate). If any inaccuracies like that are noted, or if there is an account one does not recall opening or an account has an unfamiliar balance, contact the credit reporting agency immediately to initiate a dispute of that information.

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