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Credit Repair - Protect Your Credit

Aug 17, 2007
Have you ever applied for credit and found a surprise or two on your report? As if managing your own credit isn't enough, you also have to make sure the credit reporting agencies are accurately reporting your credit history.

It is very common to find erroneous items on your credit report. It could be something as simple as having a similar name to someone else and having their credit show up on your report. But, it could be as frightening as identity theft!

There are several ways to protect yourself and your credit report against erroneous accounts and identity theft.

It's a very good idea to get a copy of your credit report every 6 months. You really have to check up on these credit reporting guys to make sure they're on top of everything. I can't tell you how many mistakes I've found!

Once you inform them of the mistake, they take 20-30 days to research it and remove it. It's just a matter of checking your own credit every 6 months. It's better to find out BEFORE you're trying to buy something than to suffer the consequences of a higher interest rate since an inaccurate delinquency can lower your credit score causing you to seem like a higher risk to the lender.

If you suspect someone is using credit in your name, you should contact all 3 credit bureaus as soon as possible and have a fraud alert placed on your report. When this is in place, creditors will be required to contact you before extending credit in your name to ensure it is really you.

If you have the same name as someone else in your family (especially if you are a Jr., Sr. or III, etc) it is very common to find mistakes on your credit report. In these cases, it is very important to constantly check your report to ensure your family member's delinquent accounts are not affecting your credit score.

Once the letter is sent to the credit bureau and the erroneous items are removed, you should receive a new copy of your credit report. Be sure to keep this copy to compare with the next one you will request in 6 months.

Since prevention is always easier than dealing with the nightmare of credit cleanup, I'll share some ideas on how to protect yourself against identity theft.

You should really guard your social security number with your life! Don't carry your social security card in your wallet! Whenever possible, ask to use a different type of identifier. However, you will have to give your social security number when applying for loans because this is the way your credit profile will be looked up.

Always use passwords on any of your personal information and avoid using anything obvious like your birth date or names of relatives that could be easy to discover. Keep your personal information in a safe place. Use a locked safe at home and lock up your driver's license and other personal info when you are at work.

When you receive credit / debit cards in the mail, be sure to sign them immediately. This will make it difficult for anyone to forge your name if your card is stolen.

Don't keep your PIN numbers on or with your credit card.

Never send your personal information to anyone in an e-mail and do not give it to anyone who calls you on the phone. Before giving out the information, you should confirm they are who they say they are by calling the number in the phone book for the said company.

There are many e-mail and phone scams where people are asked for their personal information to update an account. Always be 100% certain you are working with a valid company before giving out any information.

Only use ATM's in a safe, well lit area and be sure nobody is looking over your shoulder.

Keep all of your receipts and verify the amount you were charged matches your receipt.

Watch for unauthorized transactions on your billing statements.

Cross out all blank spaces on receipts before signing. Never sign any blank forms.

Always shred documents before throwing them away. Lots of people have had their information stolen by someone digging through their trash.

Ask your post office to hold your mail while you are on vacation so you don't have personal information sitting in your mailbox for long periods of time.

Keep up with your billing cycles. Be sure you receive all your bills every month. If a bill is missing, it could mean it has been stolen.

After working so hard to get a great credit score, nobody wants to find their credit has been completely destroyed by identity theft. It can be very difficult to clear up after it has happened to you. Following the above simple guidelines can go a long way to protect your credit score.
About the Author
Paul Johnson owns and operates a credit repair website. For free tips and information, give his site a visit. He has helped many people with their credit repair needs.
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