When is the last time you checked your credit report? If it has been more than a year, you can get a free one. The issue is, however, is how to really understand it. Here’s some information about obtaining and reading your credit report.
Obtaining Your Free Credit Report
Based on US law, everyone is entitled to look at their credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies. If you want to look at more than that, you can pay a fee. This law dates back to 2003, and all three major bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, must allow people to access their credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. Keep in mind, you won’t see your credit score through the free reports. You’d have to pay to see your scores.
When you go to this site, you can fill out a form that requires a number of items. You have to supply your name and address, your date of birth, and your Social Security number. Once entering that information, you can submit it, and you will be taken to a new page.
The next page allows you to choose which credit reporting company you want a report from. There are checkboxes next to the name of these companies. You can select all three, only two, or a single credit reporting bureau. There are some cases where you might want to access all three reports at once, but there are also instances where you might only want to access one. This is further explained on the website.
Before you can access your credit report, you have to verify your identity. You should get a page of questions on the screen about a variety of things. It might include credit accounts, loan terms, or even what cars have been purchased by you. The only way to access your report is to answer these questions correctly.
Since this website is integrated with the sites of the credit bureaus, once you gain access, you will see how easy it is to switch from one report to the next. Now, you only get one free report each year, but it is possible to check reports again, if necessary. You just have to pay a fee of about $20 to view them.
Understanding Your Credit Report
Credit reports are not easy to understand. The top of your report contains information such as your name, address, employment information, and addresses. Next, you will see public records, such as collection accounts and judgements.
Next, you will see a list of all credit accounts you have in good standing. Revolving accounts are listed next, and then you will see all requests to view your credit report. Finally, you will see any personal statements that you have placed on your credit report. Generally, this is done if you have been a victim of identity theft.
Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.