Checking Your Credit Report Can Help Spot Fraud

The following article is courtesy of the UW-Madison Division of Extension.

Did you know that federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report once a year from all three major credit reporting bureaus? This allows you to ensure the information they contain is correct and up to date.

“Checking your report is a great way to protect yourself by quickly spotting any evidence of fraud or identity theft,” says Extension specialist Pattie Carroll.

Extension’s “Check Your Free Credit Report: 2/2, 6/6, 10/10” campaign wants to make it easier to remember to order those free credit reports. Anyone can sign up to receive calendar reminders by visiting this site and clicking on 2/2, 6/6, and 10/10:

You can order your report at any time of the year, but the 2/2, 6/6, and 10/10 dates make it easy to remember to do this task at regular intervals. It’s easy to order your credit report. Just follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Request The Free Annual Credit Report

Request the report on the official website:, through the mail using the request form, or by phone at 1-877-322-8228.

You can choose to order one, two, or all three reports at the same time. Extension recommends checking your reports one at a time, for example, Equifax on 2/2, Experian on 6/6, and TransUnion on 10/10.

Visitors to the official website never need to share any credit card or payment information to get the annual free credit report. When ordering a free credit report, you will be asked for personal identifying information, including your Social Security Number, birth date, and address.

Step 2: Review The Report

Once you have your credit report, be sure the information is accurate.

Some information will be easy to review, such as your name, address, or possibly a current employer. Other information can be more confusing. Sometimes a loan may switch hands between creditors, such as a mortgage changing servicers, and the original loan will appear as closed with the new creditor listing the same loan as open. Student loans from the same lender will be posted individually on your credit report each time you take out a loan, even though you only make one payment to the same lender.

You’ll want to make sure you recognize any creditors or loans that appear in your report. You may not always recognize the business name (d.b.a. – doing business as) of a car loan, insurance company, credit card, or other line of credit. You may need to check the credit account number and amount with your records, to be sure.

The Extension website provides information on fixing errors on your credit report, how to place a free credit freeze or fraud alert on your reports, and how to read your report: