Monday, October 19, 2009

Check your Credit Report Annually for Free

To obtain free copies of your credit report, go to

There are three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian, Transunion. Each bureau offers a free copy of your credit report each year.

When checking your credit report, it is important to verify its accuracy and scan for any unauthorized activity. If you notice unauthorized activity, look into it immediately to identify and correct any identity theft issues. Discrepancies on your credit reports could damage your credit score which will impact you if you need to take out a loan, get a job, or anything else that deals with your personal finances.

Credit scores are different than credit reports. Credit reports track the complete details of all your credit accounts including payments on credit cards and loans. Your credit score is a number from the Fair Isaac Company (FICO) that ranges between 300 and 850. Although nice to know, it can cost money to get your credit score (usually around $10). If you make all your payments on time and check your credit reports annually, you shouldn’t need to pay for any additional services or information offered.

There are a lot of sites that purport to offer free credit reports. Many are trying to sign you up for services and charge fees. It is completely free to obtain your credit reports annually, so make sure to use the official site:

The strategy our family uses to take full advantage of the free credit reports and stay on top of our credit is to check our credit reports bi-annually using a different credit reporting bureau each time. By saving the third free report, we have a safety to fall back on if there is a concern of identity theft or a discrepancy that needs to be reviewed. When checking your credit report, be sure to review it to make sure all credit cards and balances are as you expect and file the report in a safe place until you replace it with a more current version. It’s important to be aware of your finances, so take advantage of this free offering!

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