Consumer Reports magazine
For general consumer protection information, including ratings of consumer products, browse Consumer Reports magazine. You can browse Consumer Reports online (with full text through January 2009) by clicking on Consumer Reports on the database page . Like our other databases you'll need a library card to access this from home. The past year's issues of Consumer Reports are also available in print at the 3rd floor Reference desk.
Businesses which sell major products like automobiles, most employers, landlords, and lenders of loans (banks) will check your credit history to determine whether you are suitable financial risk. (That is, if you are offered credit, will you pay it back?) Credit is the promise to pay for something in the future in order to buy or borrow in the present.
You are entitled to receive one free copy of your credit report from the United States' official website, AnnualCreditReport.com . You may also request a report by phone by calling 1-877-322-8228. In addition, the postal mail address for requesting a report is:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Through this website you can get a copy of your credit report from the three main credit reporting agencies:
You can also receive your credit score from these companies for a fee. Ranging from 300 to 850, your credit score is a numerical rating of your credit. It is based on five factors (from the Federal Trade Commission):
You can improve your credit score by carefully reviewing your credit report for errors and having them corrected. The Federal Trade Commission's site, Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself , provides additional tips on improving your credit.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. The Federal Trade Commission has established a website which is the official government information source for identity theft prevention  with what to do if your information is misused. Also see Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft. 
Identity theft is not simply the misuse of your credit card; anytime another person uses a valuable item associated with another person without the owner’s permission, the possessor can be said to have committed identity theft.
Some people are surprised to learn that identity theft is most likely committed by people who know the victim, even a “friend” or relative. Acquaintances are most likely to have access to your mail, financial statements in your home which contain sensitive personal information, and other documents. The simplest advice is to keep such items safely stored (preferably under lock and key, in a fireproof storage container) until and unless you need them. Here is some other advice:
Also check the Library's catalog  under the subject headings "Credit," "Credit ratings," "Consumer credit", and "Identity theft protection" for books on credit and protecting yourself from identity theft. Here are a few to get started:
Books on credit and credit reports
The Debt-Free Spending Plan . 2013. Call number: 332.024 N14D 2013
Credit Repair . 2013. Call number: 332.74 L58C 2013
The Do-It-Yourself Bailout: How I Eliminated $222,000 of Credit Card Debt in Eighteen Months and Saved Nearly $150,000 . 2012. Call number: 332.76 G61D 2012
Credit Management Kit for Dummies . 2011. Call number: 332.024 B91C 2011
Books on identity theft
Protecting Your Internet Identity: Are you Naked Online? . 2012. Call number: 302.23 C62P 2012
How to Survive Identity Theft: Regain Your Money, Credit, and Reputation . 2010. Call number: 362.88 H75H
For additional information, contact an H&R Block Business & Career Center librarian by phone, 816.701.3717, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org .