Do You Know What Your Credit Report Says About You?
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.