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June 1, 2005

Albany - The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires major credit bureaus to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months.

For many people, the only time they even think about their credit is when they apply for a credit card. Lanett Austin says, "We'll have some people approved and some people declined, really just depending on their history."

History that could also affect whether they can make major purchases. "Me and my husband were trying to purchase a home and we wanted to make sure that anything that was on the credit that was unpaid, we could take care of because, the better your credit is, the better your chance of purchasing a home,"says Mandy Guined. She doesn't even use credit cards. "I've known several people that get themselves into debt with credit cards," says Mandy, "and I just don't want to put myself in that situation."

Every year, at least once a year, she checks her credit report. "I think it's a very good idea to check it at least once a year, not only for your personal, but just to make sure there's nothing on there that shouldn't be on there, says Mandy. Like an open line of credit that she didn't apply for, or past due bills.

Credit cards aren't the only thing that can affect your credit report. Even something as innocent as a library fine can have a negative impact.

And if someone is using your identity to make purchases, it could cause big problems. Pam Martin of Heritage Bank says, "Let the three large credit bureaus know that there's information out there on you that's incorrect, that's possible fraud. Go to your bank, report it to your bank, check your other credit cards, talk with them and make sure no one has tampered with those credit cards."

Starting Wednesday, your credit report  is free and immediately available, with just the click of a mouse. You can also obtain a copy of your credit report by phone or postal mail.

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