MOULTRIE — A Moultrie church is hosting a Cooperative Extension Service program on money management next week.

Fiscal Fitness will be held 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, at New Jerusalem Baptist Church. The program is free but pre-registration is required. To register, call the County Extension office 616-7455 by Friday, Sept. 14.

The class teaches about financial security and protecting the credit record.

One of the most important factors for building financial security is protecting the credit record. Individuals should monitor their credit by regularly reviewing their credit report from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax (800) 685-1111, Experian (888) 397-3742 and Trans Union (800) 888-4213. Georgia law allows residents to request a free copy of their credit report twice a year from each bureau. Comparing reports from each of the credit bureaus is helpful for protecting against fraud and identity theft.

When a consumer calls one of the above numbers for his credit report, he will be asked to give his full name, date of birth, Social Security number, home addresses for the past two to five years and phone number. Consumers may also request their report online by going to annualcreditreport.com, the only federally authorized online source for obtaining a report. Beware of other online sites that offer “free” credit reports but may charge for another product.

Once the credit report is received, it should be checked carefully for accuracy. Look for accounts that might not belong; verify all credit limits and balances; and make sure accounts that have been closed say, “closed at consumer’s request.” If errors are found on the report, contact the credit bureau immediately. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the bureau must contact the company that supplied the information. That company is obligated to verify the disputed information within 30 days. If it cannot do so, the credit bureau will delete the inaccurate information from the report. The information will remain on the report only if the company can prove its accuracy in which case a statement of up to 100 words can be added explaining the consumer’s side of the situation.

A credit report is the information used to determine the credit score but does not contain the score. Requesting a credit report directly from the three credit bureaus will not negatively affect the credit score. To build a better credit report and improve the score, pay all bills on time. About 35 percent of the score is determined by whether there are late or missed payments.

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