Just a friendly little reminder from your favorite Cheapskate to check your credit report.
Why? Because an inaccurate credit report can indicate your identity has been stolen, and errors in your report can affect your ability to get credit, increase your interest rates, and even affect what you pay for insurance.
If you’ve been in denial about your financial situation, checking your credit report can also be a good way to tally up what you owe and jump start your debt reduction plans.
If you’ve been working hard to pay off those debts, checking your credit report is a great way to see your success. All those “account closed, zero balance” notices make a person feel pretty good!
So how do you check your credit report? The most important thing to remember is that you should never pay to check your credit reports.
Thanks to a federal law, you can access one credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) for free each year.
To get started, all you have to do is visit annualcreditreport.com and fill out the forms. You can also request your credit report by phone or mail. The forms are simple to fill out. They ask for things like your social security number, places you lived, and they may ask a couple of personal questions about your credit history to confirm your identity. You can check out these frequently asked questions for more info.
Some people decide to request all three credit reports at once. When you do that, it makes it easy to compare the results. But from a security standpoint, you may want to request one report from each bureau every four months. (Just remember to always use annualcreditreport.com to access these reports, or you can’t get them for free.)
When you request each report every four months over the course of the year, it helps you make sure nothing bad has happened to your credit report all year long. Think of it as credit monitoring without the credit monitoring fees!
Checking your credit report is free, easy to do, and can provide you with a lot of information about your relationship with credit.