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You’re looking for inaccuracies and/or information you don’t recognize.

The Federal Trade Commission in 2013 said about 1 in 5 Americans had erroneous information on at least one of the three credit reports.

Among the surprises people have found on credit reports:

1. Collections accounts or judgments they didn’t know about. 2. Paid accounts showing as open. 3. Incorrect name and/or Social Security number. 4. Open accounts they knew nothing about. 5. Incorrect debt amounts.

It’s important to dispute any errors you find.

Most experts say you should pull your reports from the credit bureaus at least once a year, staggering the requests so you get one report every four months. But there are times when it’s better to pull all three reports at once:

- If you have lost a wallet, your mail has been stolen or you suspect your information has been compromised. - If you pull one credit report and see signs of potential fraud or identity theft. - If you see a large, unexplained drop in your credit scores. - If you are planning to apply for a mortgage.

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