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Do You Know What Your Credit Report Says About You?

by Jackie Beck

If you’re in the U.S., you’re entitled to receive one free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies every year. To do so, go to www.annualcreditreport.com. That’s the official free site.

It’ll get you free access to your credit report, although you may have to say “no thanks” to various offers once you’re taken to the individual credit reporting agency sites. You can also get your report by calling 1-877-322-8228.

You can choose to get all 3 reports at once, or you can space them out across the year so that you’re always getting a report every few months. I do mine all at once, but that’s only because I don’t feel like spacing them out.

Your credit report will contain the following types of information:

  • Identifying information like your name (including variations of your name — or if you have a long name like my legal first name, it’ll show a portion of your name), addresses, etc.
  • Credit-related information such as loans and credit cards that you’ve taken out, their status, and your payment history (whether you’ve been late & how often), etc.
  • Information gleaned from public records
  • Recent inquiries (lists of places who have inquired about your credit-worthiness — there will probably be both “hard” and “soft” pulls listed here. Hard pulls count against you when determining your credit score, but soft pulls do not.)

Pulling your own credit report does not count against you in determining your credit score. Which reminds me, remember that your credit report is not the same as your credit score.

The credit reporting agencies will probably try to sell you a credit score of one type or another, but it’s your credit report that’s important to review for errors. Your credit report is basically a history of how you’ve used credit over a certain period of time — and that’s what will determine your credit score.

Why should you care about your credit report?

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, mistakes on credit reports can be common. It’s important to check and see exactly what’s being reported about you so that you can correct any mistakes. A review of your credit report could also alert you to identity theft — such as if someone else has taken out loans or credit cards in your name.

For more information about getting free access to your credit report (and what to do if you find an error), go to the FTC’s web site.

Posted in Credit Cards & Loans on 01.29.10 with 13 comments.

13 Responses to “Do You Know What Your Credit Report Says About You?”

  • David says:

    I would suggest spreading them out, so you can get a free report every four months.

    Once you know how to do that, it would be good to know what you need to do if you find something in error.

    I have yet to find anything, but it is good to stay very organized when filing an appeal.

    You need copies of everything, and you need to follow the instructions exactly.

    The process is too long to go into here, the most important thing you need to do if you find an error is to ACT to get it fixed.

    • Jackie says:

      David, I’ve found minor errors on mine before and the process was pretty simple to get it fixed. I just followed the steps listed on the web site.

  • CJ Bowker says:

    I use http://creditkarma.com and http://quizzle.com to get free credit scores. Quizzle comes with a credit report as well but you can only access your scores and report once every 6 months. While at Credit Karma you can access your score as often as you would like. I forget but I think Credit Karma uses Experian and Quizzle uses TransUnion. Don’t hold me to that though.

  • Ms. Freeman says:

    I am a huge fan of the fee credit report. You can’t fix what you don’t know what is broken.

  • Collette says:

    Thank so much for this info! Pulled mine, and boy, there’s work that can be done, and I agree with Ms. Freeman – can’t fix it if we don’t know what’s wrong :) Your blog is great thanks!

  • Karen says:

    This is something that I usually do every year, but with all that’s happened in my life lately I completely forgot about it. Good reminder to check our credit history.

    There usually isn’t any surprises on mine (knock on wood), but you never know and it’s definitely a good idea to see what’s on the report.

    Karen

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