It is very important for you to keep track of what is going on in your personal credit history. Just as you want to know what others are saying about you, you should be aware of how others view you in terms of financial reliability. In order to do this, you need to check your personal credit report regularly.
Checking your personal credit report
Because the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian – collect so much information, it is inevitable that your credit report will probably contain errors at some point during your life. In fact, it would not be unlikely for you to see several errors on your credit report, at different points in your life. It is important that you keep tabs on your credit report.
One of the most important things you can do is to check your credit report at least once a year, although checking it every few months is preferable. It will help you catch errors and – more importantly – identity fraud. If you are regularly checking your credit report, you will be able to see if accounts have been opened in your name, even if you did not personally open them.
If you want to check your credit report for free, it is possible to do so by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. This Web site was set up in response to a Congressional mandate that the three credit reports offer one free credit report a year to everyone. This means that you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. That adds up to three free reports a year. You can look at all three at once, or you can stagger them throughout the year, having a look every four months. It is important to realize that, though the three bureaus offer similar information, not all of your information will be the same. Different lenders and creditors and other agencies report to different credit bureaus, and not always to all three of them.
Another way to get a free credit report is if you have been denied credit. If you apply for a loan or a credit report or some other service, and you are denied because of what is in your personal credit report, you can request a copy of your report. However, you have to request the report from the bureau that the company used to check your credit, and you usually have to request the free report within 60 days of the denial.
If you have already used up your yearly reports, and if you haven't been denied credit, it is still possible to view your credit report. You just have to pay for it. You can get your credit report for a fee from other sources. There are many Web sites that offer to retrieve your credit report for you – as long as you are willing to pay for it. The three credit bureaus themselves also offer access to your credit report for a relatively small fee (it is part of the law that it has to be offered for a "reasonable" fee).
Credit monitoring services
Credit monitoring services are those that watch your credit report on your behalf. If something negative crops up, or if a new account is opened, these services alert you. Then you can check to see if it is something you did (like if you got a car loan), or if it is something someone did after stealing your identity. If you are good about checking your credit report regularly, and keeping track of what appears on your bank, loan and credit cards statements, credit monitoring services are not very necessary. However, some people find them very useful.
Credit monitoring services either charge per month, or they charge per incident. Some credit monitoring services will automatically dispute anything negative, so it its important to make sure that you find out what sort of service you are choosing.
Keeping tabs on your personal credit report is a good idea. It can help you protect yourself from identity fraud, and it can help you see when you need to work on in terms of improving your finances.
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