Knowing and maintaining your credit score is an important part of living the lifestyle you want. Here is some basic information you need to know about credit. Understanding your rights and knowing how to protect your credit is essential to your financial well-being.

  1. No one can remove accurate negative information from your credit report. It’s illegal!
  2. Most negative credit information will last for seven years and a bankruptcy will last ten years.
  3. A credit repair company cannot charge you a fee until the service is completed.
  4. You can, free of charge, request an investigation on any inaccurate or incomplete credit data by writing to the credit reporting agencies.
  5. It will usually take up to 30 days to investigate an inaccurate or incomplete credit data.
  6. After an investigation, the credit agency will provide you with a report on the investigation and a free credit report.
  7. To order a free annual credit report from all three credit agencies visit, or call 1-877-322-8228.
  8. Credit reporting agencies will never ask you for personal information online. If you suspect fraud, forward the email to the FTC at
  9. Information you need to provide for your free credit report: your name, address, social security number and your date of birth. Each company may also request additional information to verify your identity.
  10. When you order your credit report by phone or by mail, it will take up to 15 days to receive your report. Requests online will allow you to view your report immediately.
  11. You can stagger your credit report request from each agency throughout the year to help monitor your credit.
  12. Any creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that require your credit report in order to evaluate your credit may request your credit report.
  13. Your employer must have your written approval to request a credit report.
  14. A credit score is a system creditors use to decide whether to give you a loan and how much interest to charge you.
  15. If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, contact your credit agency to place a Fraud Alert, contact your bank and/or creditors, file a police report and file an ID fraud complaint with the FTC at
  16. Perform an annual credit checkup yourself. Here’s how:
  17. For more information about how to maintain your credit visit

Keeping in mind these basic facts will help you spot any problems in your credit that may arise and allow you to make more informed decision about your financial life.

How are you taking charge of your credit and finances? What would you add to our fact sheet? We would love to hear your suggestions and tips in the comments!