I went through this scrubbing process whenever offered a higher interest rate or less loan than I expected.  And when I saw something weird about me on a Search Engine.  Once every decade or two.  It's free!  Also worked for a close relative when a bank error screwed up her records.  And two other relatives whose family financial information was outed by lax security at their (or spouse's) employer.  This happens sometimes;  don't feel bad, just do damage control.  May your troubles be short-lived!

In the 🇺🇸 USA

Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze   Phishing
💳︎ Free Credit Reports When you get your report   FICO credit score Credit and identity-theft monitoring or insurance

Credit counseling   Debt Collectors and Data Aggregators

Activism

Fraud Alert or Credit Freeze

The employers above helped put a Fraud Alert (formerly Credit Watch) with the nationwide consumer credit-reporting companies.  Before the credit-reporting company OKs a new account to a vendor (such as a new credit card), they will require some sort of confirmation from you.

A more extreme form is the Credit Freeze (formerly Security Freeze), apparently allowing no new accounts or loans.

To get one of these, yourself, for free—say, My account information has been compromised to each of:

  1. Equifax > box Place or manage a freeze or Add or manage a fraud … alert, or
     Equifax Office of Fraud Assistance
     PO Box 105069
     Atlanta GA 30348
    📱︎☎ 1-800-525-6285 or 📱︎☎ 1-888-766-0008 ;  and

  2. Experian Credit Fraud Center
     PO Box 9532
     Allen TX 75013
    📱︎☎ 1-888-EXPERIAN ;  and

  3. Innovis > box Fraud … Alert or Credit Freeze, or
     Innovis Consumer Assistance
     PO Box 26
     Pittsburgh, PA 15230
    📱︎☎ 1-800-540-2505 ;  and

  4. TransUnion > box Fraud ... Alert or Credit Freeze, or
     TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance
     PO Box 6790
     Fullerton CA 92834
    📱︎☎ 1-800-680-7289.

💳︎ Free Credit Reports

Any American can get free credit reports (it is your data, after all) once a year, under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act or FACTA) of 2003.  Regardless of whether you have had an adverse action or your identity stolen.

And beyond that, if you had any credit trouble, no matter how small (you have been declined credit, employment or insurance, or experienced adverse action), you are separately entitled to free reports, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) of 1970.

Looking at your credit reports periodically is a good idea:  Time magazine reported that 70% of credit reports contain inaccurate information, 25% bad enough to deny credit.  About right, in my experience.

Get your free credit reports collectively from the three (they lie — there are four) nationwide consumer credit-reporting companies, via any one of the following:

  1. AnnualCreditReport.com (do not go to the similarly-named commercial site) > button Request your free credit reports.
      • It will try, under-the-covers, to take you to each of the three company websites in turn.  Kinda clunky.  If a daughter website doesn't want to show you the results electronically, it may send you point three below, perhaps with a request for photocopies of a couple ids.

  2. 📱︎☎ 1-877-FACT-ACT.

  3. File a 📝︎ paper request, perhaps on this form, mailed to:
     Annual Credit Report Request Service
     PO Box 105281
     Atlanta GA 30348
    They will mail you your reports on 📝︎ paper.

  4. I see that Consumer Reports magazine offers a credit checkup, where you can sign up for a free credit report, then tell CR about any problems you found, so they can hold the credit bureaus accountable.  Perhaps I will try then next time!

Plus request a report from the fourth company, Innovis, as below.

Or get your free credit reports individually from each of the four nationwide consumer credit-reporting companies:

  1. Equifax > box Get a free credit report, or
     Equifax Information Services LLC
     PO Box 740241
     Atlanta GA 30374
    📱︎☎ 1-866-349-5191 ;  and

  2. Experian > top navigation Reports & Scores > box Free Credit Report, or
     Experian
     PO Box 4500
     Allen TX 75013
    📱︎☎ 1-888-EXPERIAN ;  and

  3. Innovis > button Order My Credit Report, or
    by mail using form from above webpage > link Innovis Credit Report Request by Mail:
     Innovis Consumer Assistance
     PO Box 1689
     Pittsburgh PA 15230
    📱︎☎ 1-800-540-2505 ;  and

  4. TransUnion > top navigation Credit Help > Credit Report > TransUnion Credit Report, or
     TransUnion Consumer Disclosure Center
     PO Box 1000
     Chester PA 19016
    📱︎☎ 1-800-888-4213.

Always say "No" to promotions, credit monitoring, credit report monitoring, credit score subscriptions, and identity-theft insurance— you don't need them.

And keep reading …

💳︎ FICO credit score

A source (which?) says:

FICO Score:Meaning:
> 800Exceptional credit
740-799Very good
670-739Good
580-669Fair
< 580Poor

Suze Orman says to:

Suzie used to have a FICO Kit.  My bank and even Costco market credit report/credit score services, the latter provided by one of the big 4 above.

Personally, I do not want to pay for information about me—it's my data, isn't it?  So far, have not needed to.  If I am ever declined/restricted, I will ask the declining agency:

If they resist:

Then start again from with the section on free Credit Reports.

Some years ago, I talked a car salesman into telling me my FICO score.  730 or something.  Thank you!

Although not yet having this nice chart nor advice, I decided that was OK for the wacky transition period I was in at the time, and I didn't need to do anything beyond what I was already doing.

I did buy the car from that salesman (used, new-to-me).  For cash (well, a check, from my checking account).  Then drove right to my bank, asked for a loan for 50% of that price, for only 3 years.  A minimal loan, it was approved quickly and easily, and replenished my emergency buffer.  Yeah!  Made minimum payments faithfully.  Six months from end, when the
carrying amount was small, I paid it off.  By that time, credit score essentially repaired.

💳︎ Credit counseling

For those with big problems, Suze Orman recommends the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

For those with small problems, continue with previous sections.

Activism

Letting you order a credit report once a year and as-needed ( as described above ) is a large step in the right direction.

But what about:

Contact your Congressperson.