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reported late, or outdated information, it can seriously hurt your credit scores.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
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
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!