For most people, the thought of checking their credit report is the farthest thing from their mind. Whether you are ignoring your report because of debt problems or you simply don’t think there is a problem, failing to properly monitor your credit report can be a costly mistake. Getting to know your credit report and the answers to some common questions about credit is the best way to ensure you keep your score at the top of the game.
How often can I check my report?
You can obtain one free copy of your credit report per year from each of the main credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). You can also access your credit report at any time by paying a fee. If you decide to obtain a copy of your credit report for a fee be sure you are using a legitimate credit reporting site and not paying a third party. Some of the third party companies could leave you vulnerable to a scam. Go directly to the credit bureau’s website to pay for a copy or use www.myfico.com.
Why should I check my report often?
It is important to check your report at least annually to ensure the reported information is accurate. It isn’t uncommon for your credit report to contain errors and information about accounts that do not belong on your report. You may find that you are in default, have a reported missed payment, or have an account status that is unsatisfactory. These marks on your credit report should be handled right away to prevent any damage to your credit profile.
How can I get help with my credit report?
If you need to dispute information on your credit report first contact your account holder directly to verify the information that is being reported. File a dispute with your account holder if you feel the reports are in error. Next, contact each credit bureau directly to find the appropriate forms to file. Each bureau has a separate dispute process, so it is important to maintain your documentation and keep copies for your records. Send in the necessary documents and follow up with each bureau about the status of your dispute.