Consumers can avoid potential problems with credit card issuers by running a background check on themselves and then correcting any erroneous personal information listed in public records.
Credit card issuers and other lenders, not to mention possible employers and insurance companies, could think twice about getting involved with someone whose credit history shows a list of negative items. But how would it feel to get turned down for a credit card based on mistakes you never even made?
By running a background check on yourself, it is possible to turn up the type of erroneous information that could hurt your chances with credit card issuers, employers, and the like. Once you are aware of these errors, you can go about getting them fixed.The first thing you may want to do is order a free annual credit report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — the three major credit bureaus. Then, you should look over your credit reports closely for and unusual addresses or fake accounts, which could indicate identity theft or fraud. If you turn up any unusual items, contact the credit issuers (individual credit card issuers’ numbers can be found using national directory assistance at 800-555-1212) and the credit bureaus directly:
- Equifax, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241; (800) 685-1111.
- Experian , P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013; (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742).
- TransUnion, P.O. Box 1000, Chester, PA 19022; (800) 916-8800.
Also, you can investigate whether any bad checks have been written in your name by visiting the website of Chex Systems at www.consumerdebit.com.
Meanwhile, a look at your Social Security Benefits Statement, which should be mailed to you each year, can help you discover whether your earnings have been accurately reported and if anyone has been working using your Social Security number. A Social Security statement can be ordered online at www.ssa.gov, and problems can be reported via the toll-free number 800-772-1213.
Finally, legitimate background-screening companies will be able to supply you with your own criminal, motor vehicle, and professional license records for a fee between $30 and $100. Such a legitimate company can be found one the website of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners at www.napbs.com.
If the work to correct errors on public records seems like too monumental an undertaking, keep in mind that you can pay a security firm to help. Regardless of whether you outsource the job, you can look forward to credit card approvals or denials based on your own merits.