Free Credit Report
Did you know a free credit report can be a great tool to help you manage and clean up your credit? Since the information contained in your credit report may directly affect the interest rates you're offered on credit cards, mortgages and other loans, keeping track of what is in your credit report is in your best… well, interest!
There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each collects information on your credit history which is pulled into a credit report. From that report, a credit score is derived. That score is a quick way for lenders to assess how risky you are as a potential borrower. The higher your score, the less risk you pose to lenders and the more likely it is that you'll get their best available rates and terms.
The credit bureaus may each have different information about your credit history as not all Banks, Credit Unions, or lenders report to all three credit bureaus. This means your credit score can vary somewhat from bureau to bureau. So it's important to view reports from all three. You can get any of the bureaus' credit reports free at www.annualcreditreport.com. You can download all three of your reports at the same time, or download one of the three every four months. Staggering when you order the reports is a good strategy for reviewing your information throughout the year.
When you get your report(s), check for and immediately report any inaccuracies. To correct inaccuracies or dispute information you must contact each of the bureaus individually. The bureaus are required to investigate any reported errors and respond to you within thirty days. Look, too, for things that may lower your credit rating, like accounts you thought had been closed long ago.
Following these simple steps can help you to maintain or improve your credit score:
- Order and review your credit report at least annually.
- Correct any errors on your report.
- Reduce credit card balances to 30% or less of the limits.
- Make all of your payments on time.
- Don’t fall for “credit repair” scams. Only good credit behavior and time can improve your score.
Beware of scams and copycat websites out there that represent themselves as a reputable and free source for credit reports. If they are asking for your payment card number it is not free! You can get your credit reports for free at www.annualcreditreport.com
Unlike your credit report, which you can get at no cost to you, you usually have to pay for your credit score. There are certain instances in which you are entitled to your credit score for free, for example if you are denied a loan on the basis of your credit score. To purchase your FICO credit score you can visit www.myFICO.com