Checking your credit report regularly is vital to your goal of financial stability. You want to make certain that all accounts listed on your credit report belong to you. The Fair Credit Reporting Act was created to ensure that consumers have access to these reports, so they can manage the credit they use. This act has a provision that entitles every consumer to one free credit report a year. These reports can be obtained from the three best known credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. It is best to request a copy from all three bureaus to ensure all three credit reports show accurate information.
Requesting a free credit report is simple. You can contact each credit bureau electronically via the internet to ask for a copy. You may also submit a request to each bureau by mail. In addition to the one free credit report per year, you are also eligible for a free copy within 60 days of a credit denial. The free copy of the credit report does not include your credit score. You can get your score for an additional fee. If you want a credit report after receiving your free one, you’ll also be asked to pay a fee for that privilege.
Upon reviewing your credit report, you may find inaccuracies. Make sure your contact information is correct as well as your listed employer. Also, check to see that each credit bureau has your correct social security number. Any inaccuracies in this information may lead to the listing of accounts that may not belong to you.
Each credit bureau allows you to dispute outdated or incorrect information. Search for accounts that fall outside of the seven year statute of limitations for reporting or that look unfamiliar to you. Once you submit your dispute, the credit bureau has 30 days to investigate the information. This investigation may require that you provide documentation stating the correction that needs to be made. When the investigation is complete, you will be informed of the outcome. You will also be provided with a new credit report showing the updating results.
As a consumer, being aware of what is listed on your credit report allows you to have full control over your finances. Outdated or incorrect listings can mean thousands of dollars lost due to high interest rates and many credit denials. You should request a copy of your credit report annually, at the very least. Staying abreast of what it shows will keep you on your path towards financial responsibility.