Summer is barely in the rear-view mirror, and winter is right in front of us. Believe it or not, the holiday season will soon be upon us. You may not be ready to talk about that yet, but, for forward thinkers, now is a good time to consider your credit file.
The holiday season brings with it a sea of offers of credit, lay-away, prepaid cash card deals and a host of other buying opportunities. It also brings with it the threat of identity theft by those who want to take advantage of holiday shopping season and may not have the means of their own. With just two months to go before the season gets into full swing, this is a good time to be proactive and check into your credit.
The reason for this is simple, if you find problems on your credit (such as outdated items or items that do not belong to you) you need to take action. When you find an inaccuracy on your credit report, you have the right to issue a dispute to the credit reporting agency that is reporting that inaccuracy and force that agency to conduct an investigation. The law allows that agency up to 30 days to complete its investigation. As such, any disputes that go out now will be answered in mid-November. Any escalated investigations, where the consumer is asked to provide additional support for their claims, will not be resolved until December – when it may be too late. Therefore, now is the time to start.
Every person is entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once per every 12 month period. If you have not received your free report, you can go to www.annualcreditreport.com and make a request. You will be required to answer some security questions, and, if the bureaus find concern with the security, they may require you to mail in your request.
Another way you can get a free credit report is if you were recently denied credit. When you receive a letter from a creditor that advises you that you have been turned down, the credit bureau which was used to deny that application has to provide you a report free of charge. All that is needed is a simple letter requesting the report along with a copy of the letter denying credit.
It is so important that you look at your credit report once a year. If you are unable to get a free copy for whatever reason, it may be well worth the cost of paying for it if it saves you the hassle and embarrassment of not having enough buying power two months from now.