Checking Your Credit Report & Credit Score

Whether you are looking forward to getting a loan or not, you should routinely check your credit score to ensure there are no errors or suspicious activity on your report. This way, the problem can be attended to and resolved immediately – before it does become a major issue for you. In addition, you can take a proactive approach and provide explanations to be added to your credit report if you were late making a payment, bounced a check, or made any other form of financial mistake.

Getting Your Credit Reports

According to Federal law, you have the right to receive one credit report each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. To take advantage of this law, you need to call or visit online at   (Another option is to mail a request to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box, Atlanta, GA,.)

No matter which option you choose, you will receive reports from all three agencies.

You are also entitled to a free credit report if you have applied for a loan and been turned down within the past 30 days or if you are unemployed and applying for a job within the next 60 days.

Preparing for Loan Applications

If you are planning to apply for a loan, it is important to obtain your credit report and make sure it is accurate ahead of time. If you are planning to apply for a mortgage, you should obtain your credit report at least three to six months beforehand.

For an auto loan, you should check your credit history before you start shopping for the car of your dreams. When applying for a credit card, be sure to check your credit report before applying for the card.

What to Look For

When checking your credit reports, there are several things you should check. First of all, make sure your name and social security number are correct. Also, check your date of birth, address, and listed occupations. You should also look at your accounts that have been closed out and any pending accounts to ensure they are accurate.

The key is making sure that everything listed on your credit report is accurate and accounted for.  If you are unsure about an item on your credit report, call the credit bureau for more detailed information about the questionable item listed on your report.  There are also some things that should legally be cleared up on your credit report. For example, a bankruptcy should be removed from your credit report after ten years. Any tax liens, suits, arrest records, and judgments should be removed after seven years.