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How Often Should You Check Your Credit Reports?

I think we can all agree that 2018 just flew by, right? It’s hard to believe that the end of the year is already here! The good news is, the start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to see where you currently are on your credit journey and put a plan in action to better your financial health in 2019. This also means that you will once again have access to your free annual credit reports. You have the right to see your credit report from all three major credit bureaus, once a year, without having to pay a single penny! A great strategy is to access your credit report from a different bureau every four months. This way, you will be able to see your credit report throughout the entire year. If you want to check them all once, that’s fine as well (it’s definitely better than not checking them at all). I’m going to help answer some common questions asked when it comes to checking credit reports.

1. Why Should You Check It?
How would you feel if someone was using your personal information in order to open accounts in your name and you had no idea about it? I’m sure you would be extremely frustrated and upset that someone accessed your private data without your permission. So, unless you want to be a victim of identity theft, you should be checking your credit report to verify all of the information on your credit file is correct, and that all of the accounts listed actually belong to you. Your credit reports are updated regularly as the credit bureaus receive new information about you and your accounts; it’s your responsibility to check the accuracy of the data.
If there are errors on your credit report, such as payments that are wrongly reported late, or outdated information, it can seriously hurt your credit scores. In the event that you want to qualify for a loan or credit card, you may not receive the best rates that you qualify for, because of the incorrect information on your credit report.

2. How To Check Your Credit Report?
Checking your annual credit reports is very easy! You can see them online at www.annualcreditreport.com or by mail. Also, if you have a fraud alert placed on your credit, you’re entitled to an additional free credit report from each credit bureau. How awesome is that?
A lot of credit cards also offer free credit monitoring, which can help you check your scores and look out for identity theft. However, it is recommended that you are checking the same credit score and version each time, as there are several types of credit scoring models available. Otherwise, you won’t really be able to compare your scores correctly.

3. What’s In Your Credit Report?
You’ll find plenty of information in your credit report. Your credit report will include your date of birth, Social Security number, phone number, address, payment history and credit accounts. Don’t be surprised if you see collections, foreclosures or repossessions on there as well. These negative accounts will be on there. You will also see who has accessed your credit file. If lenders or creditors have pulled your credit report within the past two years, those credit inquiries will appear on your report.

4. What Other Reports Do You Have Access To?
Have you heard of specialty reports? Specialty consumer reporting agencies collect and share your information for a service or product. Unless you’ve had an issue getting hired, being approved for a lease, or even opening a checking account, you may have never heard of specialty consumer reporting companies. These types of reports are compiled from your history of apartment rental payments, employment, and even medical records or payments, just to name a few and you can get free copies of these reports every 12 months from many of the specialty consumer reporting companies. The CFPB has a list of available reports online.
By checking your credit reports regularly, you can catch any errors or identity theft sooner rather than later. Even the smallest of errors could cause damage to your score, potentially disqualifying you from loans or better lending terms. So, while you’re taking the time to write down your New Year’s resolutions for 2019, make sure that checking your credit report more often is one of them!

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