It’s one thing to check your credit score, but it’s a good idea to take the extra step to check your actual report. Your report is a detailed history of your payments and debts. This different from your score. There are 3 different credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. By law, you are entitled to have one free report from each bureau once per year. You may do this all at once, but I recommend you spread it out through the year (once every 4 months). Here are reasons why I think it’s important to check your credit reports:
- Identity thieves are out of control! Last year it was reported that those little weasels stole over 16 BILLION (yep, that’s billions with a B) dollars from nearly 13 million victims. That’s horrific, right?! Often times people have no idea that they’ve been victims of identity theft, as these thieves are rather good at not getting caught. Checking your credit report is a great way to catch any peculiarities and handle them before they spin out of control. You’ll be looking for peculiar charges that are unpaid and large in value. Stay Tuned for an upcoming blog series on Identity theft and protecting yourself.
- Negative Items: If you’re a person that moves often, you could have items that have gotten lost in the mail. This happened to a friend of mine when we were in college. He had a surgical procedure and the hospital sent the bill to the wrong address, oops. He didn’t find out about the bill until a woman from collections called him several months later. If you realize there are some things for you to take care of, get those handled so you can keep moving forward toward your goals.
- Mistakes: Sometimes you will have paid something off and it was not updated on your credit report. Sometimes other people’s stuff is on your report. This also happened to another friend of mine, someone with her exact same name and birthday, went to hospital and didn’t pay the bill. But this doppelganger reported an address where my friend had never lived, so she was able to easily dispute it and get it removed from her report.
So, how do you check your credit report? The one that I use is called Annual Credit Report. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), this is the only website authorized to give out free credit reports by the 3 bureaus. There are other sites, but I haven’t used them so I can’t give you any opinion on those. Also, heed this warning from the FTC website: “Annualcreditreport.com and the nationwide credit reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from annualcreditreport.com or any of the three nationwide credit reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably a scam. Forward any such email to the FTC at email@example.com.”
This is just for the report, which is actually free. I promise! If you want your credit score from that bureau generated you can pay a few bucks for that information. We’ll talk more about credit scores and how to get that information at another time. For now, check out your credit report if you haven’t in awhile and see how things are going. Hopefully everything is just dandy!
Did you try checking your report? How did it go, did you learn anything new? Comment or Tweet me, I’d love to hear how your adventure went!