Mandatory Summer Reading: Your Credit Report

Written by: Scott Sery

Most of us know that we should be checking your credit report regularly.  But how many of us actually do it?  When was the last time you checked your report?  If it has been more than a year, you should double check to make sure that nobody is using your identity.

While watching TV or surfing the internet you may see ads for services that offer a credit report.  They often go as far as to say that the report is free.  What usually ends up happening is that you pay for the service, and the report is free.  So instead of paying someone to send you your credit report, simply go get it yourself.  You can use the only government approved credit report site to access your report.

The process of checking it is really quite simple.  Just head over to the site and enter your information.  You will be asked which agencies you want to get a report from.  Here’s the deal, you can only get one free report per year per agency.  There are 3 agencies, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax.  You can get all your reports at once, but you will find they are mostly similar.  Instead of getting one report every year, and waiting 12 months without knowing what is going on with your identity, stagger the reports.  Every four months pull another credit report and check to see if there are any mistakes, or if any new accounts have been opened in your name.  A lot can happen in 12 months, and the longer a mistake is on your report, the harder it is to get it off of there.

Mistakes do happen, and for the most part they are easy to correct.  In fact, a lot of times errors on your credit report are simply clerical errors and somebody typed in the wrong number.  Filing a claim with the credit reporting agency is the quickest way to get it resolved.  For example, if you closed a credit card a few months ago, but the report is still claiming that it is open, you will want to have that corrected.  What is harder to get fixed is when someone steals your identity, and uses it for an extended period of time without you knowing their actions.  If you have not checked your report for several years, there could be someone that is bringing down your credit score by charging things in your name.  Getting all of the fraudulent activity removed might be cumbersome.

A good portion of our lives are lived online.  This is convenient when it comes to shopping, paying bills, and reading the news.  Unfortunately, it makes everyone more at risk for having their identity stolen.  If you have not checked your credit report, run one now.  It will only take you about 15 minutes.  That quarter of an hour will be time well spent if you catch a mistake that is dragging down your credit score.  A lower credit score can often mean paying higher interest on your loans, so your 15 minutes could end up saving you thousands of dollars.


Mandatory Summer Reading: Your Credit Report

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