When was the last time you saw a copy of your credit report? If it’s been more than two years, then it’s probably time to take another look.
It’s important that you understand the information in your credit report, regardless of your financial situation. This information directly impacts your ability to obtain a credit card, buy a car or home, rent an apartment, or even get a new job. Two of the best reasons for reviewing your credit report today are to make sure your credit report is accurate and protect yourself from fraud or identity theft.
If you’ve ever applied for a credit card, a personal loan, or insurance, there’s a file about you. This file contains information on where you work and live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy. Companies that gather and sell this information are called Consumer Reporting Agencies, more commonly known as credit bureaus. The information credit bureaus sell about you to creditors, employers, insurers, and other businesses are called consumer reports or credit reports.
Get Your FREE Credit Report Every Year
Your credit report is a history of how you’ve managed your money and is used as the foundation of your financial life; it’s an important document. Your report is based on information provided by three agencies that track your credit history:
You are entitled to one free report from each agency every 12 months. The best place to get your report is online at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877.322.8228. Your report includes the following:
- Identifying information – name, address, social security number, birth date, driver’s license number and employment history.
- Trade lines – your credit accounts including bankcards, auto loans, mortgage, etc…, the date you opened the account, your credit limit or loan amount, your current balance and your payment history.
- Inquiries – a list of everyone who has accessed your credit report within the last two years, typically lenders from whom you’ve applied for credit.
- Public records – bankruptcies, foreclosures, liens and judgments.
- Collection items – information about delinquent accounts from collection agencies.
Once you get your report, it’s important to read through it carefully to look for any errors. (It’s best to get a report from each agency every four months. By checking your reports three times each year, you’re more likely to catch any errors that might occur.) Check all the accounts to make sure they’re yours – all too often mistakes happen because of clerical errors or an incorrect social security number. (If you’re divorced, be sure to check to make sure your ex-spouse isn’t still attached to your credit accounts.)
If you find an error, report it to the credit agency as soon as possible so they can correct it. You can also log your dispute directly on annualcreditreport.com. If you need help reading and interpreting your report, please contact ECCU at 269.375.6702.