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Chapter 2. Senior Citizens and Credit > Credit Cards - Pg. 12

Senior Citizens and Credit 12 Presently there are three major national credit reporting agencies--Equifax, Trans Union and Ex- perian (formerly known as TRW)--maintaining records throughout the country. Each of the three keeps files on an estimated 200 million Americans. Credit Report Error Correction One of the immutable laws of the universe is Murphy's law, "What can go wrong, will go wrong." And, as would be expected with the accumulation of such huge amounts of information, mistakes happen. It has been estimated that about half of all credit reports have errors in them. Unfortunately, errors on your credit report can have potentially disastrous results. The first step in finding out if there is a mistake in your credit report is to obtain a copy of your credit report. The cost for such a report is small. A few states (Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Massachu- setts, New Jersey and Vermont) even have laws that require the credit reporting agencies to provide you with a free credit report annually upon your request. Once you have examined your credit report, you will see if it contains any errors. You can order your credit reports by calling Equifax at 1-800-685-1111, Experian at 1-888-397-3742 and Trans Union at 1-800-888-4213. If you find a mistake in your credit report (and there is a good chance that you will), you should bring it to the attention of the credit reporting agency or agencies in writing. Remember, each of the credit reporting agencies acts independently, so it is prudent to check each agency's report for mistakes. After you have notified the credit reporting agency of any inaccurate or incomplete information that you may have found in your credit report, the credit reporting agency is required by law to investigate your complaint at no cost to you. In accordance with federal law, this investigation must be com- pleted within 30 days, although it may be extended an additional 15 days if, during the 30-day period, you provide additional relevant information for them to consider. Once the credit reporting agency's investigation is completed, they must notify you within five busi-