Get your Free Credit Report every 12 Months
One sure fire way to ensure that your credit score is kept clear of unwarranted issues is to stay up-to-date by getting your free credit report, as entitled by law every 12 months. By getting your credit report free you can follow your own progress on clearing any negative information or ensuring that companies are not putting negative information on your credit report unfairly; which can have grave consequences for qualifying for a loan or mortgage.
Regardless of your financial background or your income amount, staying on top of your credit is important for numerous factors including (but not limited to);
- Getting the best rate on credit/loans (car, boat, home loans, etc.)
- Employments (some jobs run credit reports)
- Memberships (mobile phones, gym membership, store cards, etc.)
- Renting (A bad credit history can keep you from renting a home in certain instances)
- Insurance (Some companies may provide a discount for clients with great credit)
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) each of the nationwide credit reporting agencies must provide a free credit report to consumers once every 12 months. This act was designed to promote and provide accuracy and privacy of the information in the files of the credit reporting agencies. This act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in connection with these credit reporting companies. If you have a specific complaint about not receiving your credit report as instructed, you can make a complaint to the FTC which will ensure you do.
The information in a credit report is sensitive and personal. The information provides data on where you live, how you pay your bills, such as by cash, credit or check and other pertinent financial situations like if you have been sued or have filed for bankruptcy protection. These national agencies then sell this information to companies that require this information to make credit decisions on consumers that are requesting credit or loans. These businesses often include banks, insurers, financial institutions, employers and many other businesses.
It is vitally important to your financial welfare that this information is correct or you could be denied for loans, a mortgage or a victim of identity theft without your knowledge. To ensure the information is correct is as easy as getting a free credit report as outlined below. If you notice any information that is incorrect you will need to write to the reporting agency and the FTC in order to have the wrong information corrected. You will need to provide in writing a statement with supporting documents why the information is incorrect. The reporting company has 30 days to correct the mistake.
What to Look For
When you receive your report it will contain your full history of credit applications, payments, personal details and more. It is important to slowly review the whole document to make sure everything is accurate – look for:
- Spelling mistakes to your personal details
- All credit applications are correct and were made by you
- Late payments (Are there any delinquencies and are they accurate?)
- What your debt to credit ratio looks like (lower the better, shoot for 10% or lower)
- Collection activity (Normally you should know if this is happening but thinks like old utility accounts may pop up after you have moved)
- Look for any judgments, bankruptcy or liens that may be brought up against you. Typically you would know about this if you were going through this – however if someone has stolen your identity you wouldn’t know.
- Look for any active accounts you may not have opened or for accounts you closed which have remained open. If they have annual fees and you thought the account was closed, you good be getting whacked not knowingly.
If you receive your report and are unsure on how to interpret the data and would like help, try reaching out to your local financial counselor who may be able to assist - These services are generally free, if you find a counselor who wants to charge you just look for another.
Get your Free Report
The only official and authorized website to give out absolutely FREE credit reports by the FTC is annualcreditreport.com. Any other website may seem to provide free credit reports, but they often come with strings or are potentially websites that are fraudulent. The free website listed above is approved by the FTC to provide a free report from any of the three recognized credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. By ordering the report online you will be able to view the report immediately. If you use the websites, phone order system it will be mailed to you within 15 days.
Other websites that have free report in their names or offer a free service often have clauses that allow for charges to be put on your credit card after a certain period of time if you do not opt out of their “free” service.
Visit annualcreditreport.com to access your free and official credit report direct from a federally authorized and regulated body.