The three free credit reports consumers may request per year provide important information and a means to help consumers protect against identity fraud. The information contained is invaluable.As a consumer, you may request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit bureaus every twelve months. Accessing and reviewing your credit reports from each of the three bureaus annually helps you ensure the accuracy of the information. It also allows you to monitor your account history to protect against identity theft.
Obtaining Your Credit Report
To find out how to get your annual credit report from each bureau, visit AnnualCreditReport.com. This site helps consumers obtain their free credit reports as required by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act). To request your free credit reports on-line at the site, you will need to provide specific information, including your name, social security number and address. You will then be asked to select which of the credit bureaus you want to obtain your report from:
You will also be required to answer a set of questions to verify your identity. The information contained in these questions comes directly from your credit reports.
You can obtain a credit report from each of these agencies without charge one time per 12-month period. To create ongoing protection for yourself, consider obtaining one report every four months. This ensures you can consistently monitor your accounts.
How to Use Your 3 Credit Reports
Once you obtain a copy of your reports, you’ll be able to see what potential creditors and other permitted parties see about your credit history. This information will help potential creditors decide if they should lend to you. The reports contain the following types of information:
• Your name and address
• Your current open accounts, including balances, payment history and highest balance
• Your closed accounts, unless they are over seven years old
• Records of inquiries by all parties that obtained a credit report on you from that credit bureau
• Public records occurring in the last 10 years
You can also follow the instructions provided on the site to report any inaccuracies in your report. You will not receive a copy of your credit score with your free annual credit reports. To request your credit score, you need to visit the website of one of the three credit bureaus and generally pay a fee to do so.
Why Check Your Report?
By checking your credit reports regularly, you may verify their accuracy. If you find inaccuracies, you should report them to the appropriate credit bureau so that they will not impact your credit profile. Additionally, knowing what is on your credit reports may help you make proper credit decisions about your future.
Credit Myths and Misconceptions
Credit myths and credit misconceptions are plentiful. Don’t let incorrect information influence your credit behavior.
Some of the most common credit myths are:
Your score drops if you check your own credit.This widespread credit misconception fools a lot of people, but viewing your own report and score is counted as a “soft inquiry” and doesn’t change the score one way or another. “Hard inquiries” by a lender or creditor, such as those resulting from your applying for credit, can slightly lower your credit score. If you’re shopping for a loan and concerned about harm to your score, know that multiple loan inquiries within a period of a few weeks are usually treated as a single inquiry to minimize impact.It helps to close old accounts.This credit myth advocates closing old and inactive accounts to hike up your score. However, this might inadvertently have the opposite affect and lower your credit score because now the credit history appears shorter. If you don’t trust yourself to put a card away in a safe place and not use it, then consider canceling newer accounts.Paying off a negative record means it’s taken off your credit report.Generally, negative records, such as collection accounts and late payments, will remain on your credit reports for up to seven years from the date of first delinquency. Paying off the account sooner doesn’t mean it’s deleted from your credit report; instead it’s listed as “paid.” Of course, it’s smart to pay your debts, both to reduce the total amount of debt you owe and to show your willingness to repay your obligations, but expect the negative record to have some effect until it is purged from your report.Co-signing doesn’t mean you’re responsible for the account.Regardless of this credit myth, if you open an account jointly or co-sign a loan, you will be held legally responsible for the account. Activity on the joint account is displayed on the credit reports of both account holders. If you co-sign for a friend’s auto loan and that person doesn’t make the payments, your credit profile will be hurt and vice versa. The only way to end the dual liability is to have one party refinance the loan, or persuade the creditor to formally take you off the account.Paying off a debt boosts your score by 50 points.Contrary to this credit myth, credit reporting agencies companies determine your credit score via a complex algorithm that uses hundreds of factors and values to calculate it. It’s almost impossible to calculate the difference in points changing one factor might make. It’s wise to pay your bills on time, work to lower your debts and ask that any inaccuracies be corrected. A proven record of sound financial behavior and time will have the most significant impact on your score.Now that you know more about credit myths and credit misconceptions, get your credit report & score
SOME great CREDIT HUMOR BY John Oliver