The days of 2011 are counting down. But there's still time for you to snap up a free credit report.
Wondering how you did creditwise in 2011? Perusing your credit report will allow you to check out every single credit card account you have opened and review all your consumer loan accounts such as home loans, car loans and student loans.
Monitoring your credit report is also a good way to guard against identity theft.
The three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, are each required to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months upon request.
To request a free copy of your credit report, visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call (877) 322-8228.
Review your credit report carefully. If you see a credit card account you don't remember opening or purchases you don't recall making, you can dispute these and any other errors in writing by contacting the credit reporting agency.
Not sure what to say in your dispute letter? Use this form letter when contacting a credit reporting agency.
You also may wish to contact the creditor directly about errors regarding a specific creditor account.
If you suspect a thief has been opening up credit card accounts and running up credit card charges in your name, contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies and have a fraud alert placed on your credit report. This fraud alert will last 90 days.
After you've filed a police report or completed an ID theft complaint form from the Federal Trade Commission, you can place an extended fraud alert on your credit report that will last for seven years.
For more advice on restoring your good name after an identity thief strikes, check out these tips.