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Check Your Credit

One inexpensive task I recommend that all divorcing couples do early in the divorce process is to check their credit reports to ensure that there are no surprise debts or credit lines. In my own divorce, I uncovered credit cards that were in my name that I was not aware of. Other couples have been able to find incorrect information that could have impacted their ability to qualify for credit and even for employment. Once you get a copy of your report, you can request that the credit bureau remove any incorrect information. Close all unused accounts promptly. Check your reports on a periodic basis to ensure that they remain current and accurate.

There are three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian (formerly TRW), and Trans Union. They all charge approximately $8 for a report. You may be eligible for a free copy of your report if you have been denied credit or are unemployed and seeking employment. While they do share information, I would recommend getting reports from two of the companies to provide added assurance.

Please phone each of the bureaus to confirm the amount you need to pay for your particular situation. For security reasons, all three bureaus are very firm that requests for credit reports must be in writing. In your letter to the credit bureau, you should provide the following information along with your check or money order:

  • Your full name and your spouse's full name.
  • Dates of birth and social security numbers.
  • Current and other addresses within the last five years.
  • Daytime and evening phone numbers.
  • Current employers.
  • A copy of either your driver's license or utility bill that shows your current address.
  • Your signature.

Heres the information on each of the three credits bureaus we mentioned above:

PO Box 105873
Atlanta, Georgia 30348

PO Box 2104
Allen, Texas 75013-2104

Trans Union PO Box 390
Springfield, Pennsylvania 19064-0390

If you run into problems getting information, or in cleaning up your credit reports, you can complain to the Consumer Response Center, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Federal Trade Commission, Washington, DC 20580, or call 1-202-326-3761.

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