How To Check Your Credit Report

We are constantly reminded that we need to check our credit report, but we assume it is a low priority to-do item. Errors on your credit report can affect your ability to get a loan or even a job. According to a 2007 CBS article, 80% of consumers have an error on their credit report. The first time I pulled my credit report, it had several of my grandfather’s (who I was named after) accounts and payment history on my report. Do you know what your credit report says about you?

There are 3 credit bureaus that collect information, and report a numerical credit score: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Each credit bureau will report a different score based on the information they chose to collect, so it is important to pay attention to all 3. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the credit bureaus. Although you may see catchy TV advertisements for companies that will pull your credit report for a fee, these are scams and should be avoided.

To obtain your credit reports, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Go through the process to request each of your 3 credit reports. It is important to note that you will not receive your credit score, only a copy of your actual report. During the process of getting your credit report, you can request your credit score, but you will have to pay for it. I don’t believe it is necessary to pay for your credit score, because knowing the number is not important. It is much more important to focus on the information in your credit report which is going to be used to determine your credit score.

Once you obtain your credit reports, go through them with a fine tooth comb. Check all of the information in your report to insure that it is completely accurate. Every error is important, so don’t brush over any of them. If you find errors (chances are you will) you will need to report it to the credit bureau and request that they fix it. They will verify that it is indeed an error, and are legally obligated to fix it within 30 days. Don’t expect the process to be easy as the credit bureaus tend to move slowly.

Once you have gone through your 3 credit reports and fixed all of the past errors, the last step is to put an alert on your calendar 1 year from now to check your credit reports again. Ideally you would check one of the 3 reports every 4 months, however it is fine to pull them all once per year.

So what do you think? Is this the first time you have pulled your credit reports? Have you found any errors? Let me know about your experience by sharing in the comment section.

About the author

Alan Moore, CFP®, MS
Alan Moore, CFP®, MS

Alan is passionate about providing individualized financial advice to individuals and families, regardless of their net worth, income or investable assets. An educator at his core, he strives to serve as his clients’ guide, available to help with the sometimes stressful or exciting financial situations that life inevitably brings.

Alan is the founder of Serenity Financial Consulting, which he started after noticing the lack of hourly, as-needed financial planning advice available to consumers. With experience working in several nationally recognized firms including Kahler Financial Group and Financial Service Group, Alan combines his industry experience and technical knowledge with his entrepreneurial spirit and penchant for teaching others to create a refreshing style of truly personal financial planning.

Alan is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and Certified Retirement Counselor™. He earned his bachelor’s degrees in Family Financial Planning and Consumer Economics and his Master’s Degree in Family Financial Planning from the University of Georgia. Driven by his desire to educate, Alan also taught undergraduate financial planning courses while in graduate school.

Alan prides himself on being active in his community and feels privileged to have served in the Georgia National Guard for four years before receiving an honorable discharge. Originally from Georgia, Alan now lives in Shorewood with his wife Melissa, and enjoys taking advantage of the abundance of activities that Milwaukee has to offer.

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