Judgments, liens, bankruptcies
It is hoped that you would know if you've had any major financial difficulties that involved judgments, liens or bankruptcies. However, if someone else is using -- and trashing -- your financial identity, a notation on your credit report could be your first clue.
Ditto if a less-than-scrupulous collector has tagged you with someone else's debt or taken action against you without proper notification.
When you get that report, scan the "public records" section, says Michelle Dosher, managing editor for consumer publications for the Credit Union National Association. "If there are any liens or bankruptcies, it's a good way to check."