I am fortunate to teach the Privacy Law class at Roger Williams University School of Law on Tuesday afternoons. Today, we discussed all of the laws relating to the financial services industry. OK, not the most exciting content, but it included the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA).

Enacted in 2008, FACTA allows individuals to obtain a free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. In class today, we discussed why it is important for consumers to be able to obtain a copy of their credit report, and why it is important to make sure it is accurate. We also decided that each of us should get a copy of our credit report.

Here is what we concluded. There are a number of entities that have obtained a credit report on each of us. The types of entities that can request a credit report include financial services companies that will give you credit if you are buying a car or a house; a credit card company if you are applying for a credit card; utilities that provide services to you; to obtain a professional license; insurance companies; or your prospective employer. All of the entities that have requested information about our credit will be included on our credit report. It is important to understand who has requested and obtained information about us and our credit and what they were told by the credit reporting agencies.

If anyone has tried to open an account in our name without our knowledge, this will be included on our credit report as well. It is an indication of whether we are or may become the victim of identity theft. If any of us were notified of any of the massive data breaches this year, and our Social Security numbers were compromised, this is a real risk. Getting a copy of your credit report will let you know if anyone has tried to open an account in your name and whether it was opened.

Plus, it’s free! It is important information for your financial well-being, particularly if you are about to purchase a home or car, or start a new job. How do you get it? Go to www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the only authorized website to obtain your credit report. Or call 1-877-322-8228. You will have to provide your personal information in order to authenticate your identity.

Once you get your report, check it carefully and if there are any discrepancies or errors, you can call the credit reporting agency that issued the report and notify it that it is not accurate, as well as the company which provided the inaccurate information. You can also contact the FTC for assistance at www.ftc.gov.

I don’t know about you, but I am signing off so I can go get my credit report right now…