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The information in your credit reports can have a significant impact on your life. This information is used to come up with your credit scores. Your credit scores will be considered anytime you want to make a large purchase, such as buying a car or house, and they will be a factor in determining if you are approved for a credit card as well. They can even affect smaller expenses, such as ones from cable/internet providers and energy/electricity providers. You should check your credit reports regularly to ensure the information is accurate. Learn how you can get your free annual credit reports.
3 Credit Reporting Agencies
Before you look up your credit reports you should know a little bit more about them. There are 3 credit reporting agencies and, if you meet certain criteria, each one has a credit report on you. The agencies are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Each agency may have different information regarding your credit accounts and payment history, which is why it is important to check your credit reports at each agency every year.
Get Your Free Annual Credit Reports
The easiest and safest way to check all 3 of your credit reports is through annualcreditreport.com which is sponsored by all 3 credit reporting agencies and is authorized by the federal government. You will have to provide sensitive personal information, such as your social security number, as well as some information you might need to look for, such as previous addresses.
Next you will be asked which of the 3 credit reports you want. You should request all 3 unless you have already requested one or more of them recently, as you are only allowed to request one report from each agency per year.
Then you will be directed to each agency’s website one by one and you will have to answer questions to verify your identity once again. Our main tip is that once you are able to view your credit reports you should save each of them as a PDF or print them for your records. This way you are able to easily reference these reports in the future if you are asked for information regarding your credit history.
There will also be instructions for filing a dispute with the agency if you find any information that is not accurate. However, this is not the recommended method to dispute credit report errors. Find out the most effective method according to credit experts and the Federal Trade Commission. It is important to note that if you find inaccurate information on your credit reports, you should file a dispute immediately to each of the agencies that have a discrepancy on their report. Therefore, if you are planning on making a big purchase in the future using credit, like buying a car or house, you should make it a priority to inspect your reports early in case you have to file a dispute as this process can take up to 30 days.
Your Credit Scores
So at this point you’re thinking you will be able to see your credit score, right? Well think again! Unfortunately, your credit scores will not be in your credit reports. Each agency will provide an option to get your credit score, which usually requires making an account with them and may require you to pay. This is safe to do, but do not assume you are obligated to pay in order to view your score as there are free options.
You can get your FICO credit score for free from Experian. It offers access to your Experian credit report and includes credit monitoring and alerts. Experian Boost also enables you to improve your credit score by adding payments that are left out of your credit history, like cell phone, utility bills and even Netflix, to your Experian credit report. The best part is that it’s free!
A simple way to check your VantageScore credit score is by going to Credit Karma and getting a free account. You can login any time and check your credit scores without impacting your credit. You can also receive emails if there is a change in your credit score, such as from opening a new account or missing a payment.
To better understand your FICO credit score and take steps to improve your score, learn about the 5 factors that determine your FICO credit score.
Check out our credit card guide to find a card suited to your credit and to learn more about managing your credit.
Financial freedom begins with good habits.Rebecca & Tiago, theloadedpig.com