Why You Should Check Your Credit Report Regularly
To keep the health of your credit in check, it's not enough to pay your bills on time and maintain a favorable debt-to-income ratio. You also need to review your credit reports regularly to ensure there aren't any issues, like errors or fraud, that could drag down your credit score.
Here's the low-down on why it's key to check your credit report periodically, along with information on how to do that free of charge.
Why check your credit report?
Your credit report is a record of your past behavior with credit. It includes identifying information such as your name, address, and Social Security number, as well as all your credit cards and loans, how much you owe, account status, and more.1 The information contained in your report is what's used to come up with your credit score.
But you don't have just one credit report. There are several credit reporting agencies that independently track your credit history and report your information. So the information on one bureau's credit report could be slightly different than another.
That's why checking your credit report is so important. If there are negative entries, errors, or fraudulent activity on one or more of your reports, it can cause your credit score to suffer.2 This will make it difficult to get approved for new credit. And if you are approved with errors on your credit report, you'll pay higher interest rates. A poor credit score can also affect your ability to rent an apartment, get a job, or open a cell phone account.3 It can also impact your car insurance rate.4
Did you know you have more than one credit report? There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Where to get your credit reports for free
Though there are a ton of websites that claim to offer credit reports for free, there's only one that's federally authorized to do so. That site is annualcreditreport.com.5 Through this website, you used to be able to request your credit report from all three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — once per year at no cost. But now, due to the increased risk of fraud during COVID-19, these three credit bureaus are now offering free weekly credit reports through April 2021.
Consider a credit monitoring system
While access to free weekly credit reports is a great improvement over once per year, the burden is still on consumers to actually review those reports regularly. That's where a credit monitoring service can help. A credit monitoring service checks your credit report regularly (typically daily) and provides real-time alerts about potential problems. That means one less task you have to worry about on your overcrowded to-do list.
Credit monitoring services are available for a monthly fee, but you may be able to score one at no cost to you: Some banks and credit card companies offer free enrollment in a credit monitoring service as a benefit to customers. If you make reviewing these reports a habit, your credit will benefit.
Important Disclosure Information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
- “What's in my credit report?" MyFICO, accessed November 14, 2018. Back
- “Effects of Bad Credit and Legal Considerations," HG.org, accessed November 14, 2018. Back
- LaToya Irby, "The Side Effects of Bad Credit," The Balance, accessed April 29, 2020. Back
- Consumer Reports, "The Secret Score Behind Your Rates," accessed November 15, 2018. Back
- AnnualCreditReport.com, accessed November 14, 2018. Back
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