credit report

Do You Want a Free Credit Report?

Anytime you hear the word “Free” there is usually a catch and the free item isn’t really free. Surprisingly, you can receive a free credit report by doing this:

Type annualcreditreport.com into your browser, click on “Request your free credit reports,” and start the process. It will take you less than 10 minutes and it is completely free. Federal law requires each of the three consumer credit reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to give you a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. Technically, you can receive 3 each year if you obtain one from a different credit reporting company every 4 months.

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What’s In Your Credit Report?

When we apply for loans, search for a job, or even take out an insurance policy, our credit report is used in the process. Your credit report shows all of your outstanding debts and lines of credit, including credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans. Even accounts that have been closed or debts that have been paid off will be shown for years. All of this information is used to apply a credit score to you.

It is important to make sure that you pay all of your bills on time and don’t incur too much debt so that you maintain a healthy credit score. Sometimes, incorrect information may inadvertently be placed on your credit report, which will negatively impact your credit score. The higher your credit score generally means that you will pay a lower interest rate when applying for loans, which can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars each year.

Although there are a lot of companies that will provide you with your credit report for a fee, you are legally entitled to one free credit report per year by each of the three credit reporting companies. They are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The website to obtain your free credit report is www.annualcreditreport.com, which is very user-friendly. I recommend obtaining one report every four months from a different credit reporting company so that you will never have to pay for them.

Once you have your report you should review it for accuracy. If there is a mistake, such as an account that shows that you have been late, you will need to contact the credit reporting company who issued the report to have it corrected. Most likely you will need to contact all three companies to have it straightened out.

One last note: According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you should be skeptical of companies that claim they can repair your credit. Some of their business practices are fraudulent and many of the steps you can take yourself at little to no cost. You can go to this page: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre13.shtm.