Many companies offer free credit reports and reports for a fee, depending on the provider. Certain companies offer free credit reports for customers every year, per federal regulations. You can get free credit reports from authorized companies by phone, by mail and online, depending on the company.
Federal laws allow you to request three free credit reports per year, after which you must pay fees. You can request reports from different companies or from one.
You can also request your credit score from many companies to see a quick evaluation of your credit history. Credit scores may vary between companies due to incomplete reporting from companies. However, requesting your FICO score is one way to see an accurate credit score. Some companies offer free credit scores, while others require payment. You can obtain your credit score from your bank or credit card holder, if desired. It is important to note that your credit score can fluctuate based on reporting from companies, so a changing report is not necessarily a reflection of anything you are doing wrong. However, it is important that you monitor your score regularly if you are concerned about your score due to finances or identity theft.
Best Way to Access Your Credit Report
Although you can opt to get your credit report from any number of agencies, the U.S. government has allowed for citizens to receive a free credit report once per year through any (or all) of the three accredited credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Applying for one report from each company can be a good way of ensuring that there are no mistakes in your credit report, as you can compare and contrast the reports that you receive. You can do this once per year to see how your score changes year by year and to determine what you need to do in order to improve your credit score.
Each of the three recommended credit reporting agencies can be accessed online, by phone or by mail. When you submit your application, be sure to prepare some crucial identifying information that will help your application run smoothly. This includes your name, date of birth, address and Social Security Number (SSN). Additionally, the credit reporting agency that you choose may ask you for more specific identifying information, such as the amount of money that you are currently paying on car insurance, in order to ensure that a stranger or identity thief is not trying to access your credit score.
This additional identifying information question is likely to be different for each individual case, but it should be something that only you know the answer to. However, it is also possible and legal for your creditors, employers or insurers to receive copies of your credit report, as long as you approve of them doing so.
In addition to the three accredited reporting agencies, you can also find affordable third-party providers that help you access your score, along with other information about credit cards you may qualify for, resources for building credit and more.
Before selecting a third-party source, ensure that the source is legitimate. You do not want to provide sensitive information to any site or source you cannot verify. You can check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to identify respectable businesses or check reviews of the company online. Once you verify the business, you can complete the process to receive your credit report and score.
Why Checking Your Score Is Important
It is crucial to check your credit report and your credit score periodically for many reasons. Among the most important reasons to check your report is to prevent inaccurate or false information from affecting your score. Additionally, if you are considering a large purchase that will require you to take out a line of credit, credit card or apply for a loan, you will need to know your credit score before choosing the best option for you.
When you decide you need to improve your credit score, the first step you will take is to review each account on your credit report before devising a plan to increase your score. You should also become familiar with the various sections of your report, the length of time each of your accounts has been open and the status of any closed accounts. Without a basic understanding of your credit report it is difficult to dispute any item you find to be invalid. Once you are familiar with your report, it will be much easier to spot fraudulent information that appears, as well as credit report scams that feature fake credit reports.
Once you understand how particular items influence your credit score and which items are considered less detrimental to your score’s health, you can better prepare to make responsible financial decisions. Empowering yourself to take charge of your financial security includes becoming efficient in navigating aspects of your economic life. Although your credit score will fluctuate regularly depending on a diverse range of factors, checking your score at least every year will ensure that your score never surprise you.
Credit Report Denial
If you request a free credit report and it is denied, contact the credit reporting agency to resolve the issue. The agency should be able to tell you why your request was rejected and tell you what to do next. Often, information that is missing or incorrect on your application is the reason for the denied claim.
After you provide the correct information, you should be able to access your free credit report. If not, you can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to see of you can resolve the dispute. Credit report denial may be the result of fraud. Therefore, you must work to resolve any dispute you feel involves inaccurate information including an address you do not recognize or a change in your password or other login information.
Discrepancies in identifying data can indicate a breach of security or an attempt to access your data for theft or fraud. Once you access your report, it is advisable to change your password and username to avoid future threats to your information.
By Jennifer Symonds –