How to View Your Credit Report

As a consumer, monitoring your credit is an important part of managing your finances. Having strong credit has a major impact on your borrowing ability, your professional reputation and much more. You can view your credit reports to keep tabs on this information.

What Is a Credit Report?

Your credit report is a personalized statement that includes information about your financial activities, including credit activity and your current debt. Your credit report includes your personal information as well as details about the loans you have, your payment history and more.

The credit bureaus collect information about consumers, compiling the data into separate credit reports. Creditors submit information to the credit bureaus, although there are no laws regarding how they do this and whether they submit information to every credit bureau.

When creditors want to decide whether to extend credit to you, they will check your credit reports to learn about your credit history. They'll use the information they find to determine whether you're a good credit risk and what credit terms they might offer you for a loan.

Businesses might also pull your credit report to determine whether to rent to you, whether to insure you, whether to offer you a job and more.

Laws Regarding Credit Reports

United States law says that consumers can get a free copy of their credit reports each year. So, every calendar year, approach each of the credit bureaus to get your credit report free of charge. The three credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, and each bureau maintains a website with a portal for making these requests.

Another Option to View Your Credit Report

There's also a number you can call to request your free credit reports from Annual Credit Report. Another option is to go to the Annual Credit Report website to request free copies of your credit reports. Expect to provide your name, mailing address, Social Security number and birth date to prove your identity.

If You Find Errors

If you find errors on your credit report, take immediate steps to resolve them. You might find inaccurate data, or sometimes the information recorded is incomplete. In these cases, contact the lender or agency that supplied the information to correct it. You'll also submit a dispute with the credit bureau to open an investigation. Be prepared to provide proof that contradicts the information in the credit report. Follow up on the dispute to make sure it's resolved.

Another Tip Regarding Your Credit Reports

Schedule dates every year for requesting copies of your credit reports so you don't forget. With three different credit bureaus, the best system would be to make individual requests of each bureau four months apart. This spreads out the credit reports throughout the calendar year so you are more likely to catch errors quickly if they occur.

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