At least annually, you should verify the credit information which is maintained by various credit reporting agencies. If you are married, each person should do this individually.
This is free, relatively simple and only takes 10 minutes to do.
The main website to obtain free credit information is: annualcreditreport.com. This site, governed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), will provide you with a link to get your credit report and you will need to answer a number of personal questions, for identification purposes. You may also call 877-322-8228.
This free credit report is not your “credit score.” It is the supporting information that the credit reporting agencies use to determine your credit score.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees access to your credit report information from each of the three credit reporting companies, once per year, for free. The best and only way to ensure that you are getting this information for free is to use this website, annualcreditreport.com.
Steps to follow:
- Go to the website: annualcreditreport.com
- Click on the red button: Request your free credit reports
- The next page says: 3 steps to your free credit reports….need to again click on the red button at the bottom: request your credit reports
- Submit your personal information
- Select 1 of the 3 credit reporting agencies, click Next
- Confirm the data by the reporting agency, click Continue
- Answer a number of questions that are used to identify yourself , such as what street you have lived at or when was the last time you applied for a certain loan
- The report is then provided. You can ignore the “Get Your Score” box, unless you want to pay for the credit score.
- You should print the report.
You should do this from a secure computer, from which you can print the report. You should not do this from a public computer, or somewhere like a restaurant, mall or hotel.
The 3 major credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Using the above website, you are entitled to one report from each company every 12 months. You can obtain a free report from all three at one time, or order them one at a time during a 12 month period. If you want to be very diligent, we recommend requesting your free credit report information from each of the 3 companies at different times during the year, not all 3 at once.
You should review the information obtained, and inform the agencies if you note any errors. You should check to see if there are any credit cards or loans that are incorrect and that other data is accurate.
There are many companies that offer credit reporting and monitoring services. With the increase in credit card security breaches, these services may be worthwhile, but they come with a cost. For a monthly fee, you usually get monitoring, alerts and each service’s version of your credit score (which will vary in name and the score, based on the provider).
There are companies and services that may offer your actual credit score for free. One reliable source is the Discover It credit card, which provides your FICO credit score for free on each month’s credit card statement.
If you have any questions about these matters, please contact our office. We are always striving to provide you and your family with financial security.