It’s Time For Your Annual Credit Report – What You Need to Know

Written by , April 23, 2013

Time For Your Annual Credit Report What You Need to KnowYour credit report is the single most important financial document when it comes to determining how much you’ll have to pay in interest and fees whenever you borrow money. Because you’re likely to end up borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars or more over the course of your adult life (in the form of home mortgages, car loans, credit cards and other consumer debt), it’s important to be active in managing your report.

Of course, managing your credit means that you need to know exactly what your report contains, so many individuals choose to review their reports on an annual basis.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re ready to do your own annual review.

  • Different Agencies Do It Differently. There are actually several different credit reporting agencies, each of which maintains their own individual credit report on you and your financial activities. The three primary credit bureaus in the U.S. are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. In order to have an accurate picture of what potential lenders see when they request your reports, you’ll need to get a copy from each of these three agencies.
  • Only One Free Resource. We see a lot of advertisements on television, in magazines and on the Internet promising us free access to our credit reports. Unfortunately, nearly all of these services require you to sign up for a paid service on a trial basis in order to access your reports. The three major credit bureaus are required to provide you with one free copy of your credit report each year, so you can either contact the agencies directly or go through www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the official website for obtaining your free credit reports, and you should visit it before you visit any other similar site.
  • Mistakes Can Be Made. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for there to be mistakes on your credit report. Sometimes these may be attributed to miscommunications between you and a creditor, such as when a creditor’s representative on the telephone assures you that a certain payment will not be marked as late, but then they fail to follow through. Mistakes can also appear on your credit report when the original information it was based on had errors, because many of the items on your report are automatically imported into your file but not independently verified.
  • You Must Correct Errors Separately. Because each of the credit bureaus maintains their own file, you must correct any errors with the agency whose credit report contains them. You may need to make three individual requests that the same error be corrected if each agency’s report has that error.
  • One of the biggest risks to your credit is not knowing what potential lenders see on your credit reports. Make sure to review yours at least once a year so that you can ensure the reports are accurate, and work to improve them.

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