Your credit report contains the details of your financial history. Your ability to get good interest rates on loans, approved for credit cards or even an apartment can depend on your credit report. As such, not only must the information contained in the report be checked for accuracy, it must be checked regularly because creditors report information to the credit agencies to be included in credit reports.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act you have a right to know the information contained in your credit report, but you have to request to see the information. You can receive a free annual copy of your credit report from the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You are also entitled to know who requested your report within the previous year or the past two years for employment-related requests.
At the very least, you should be reviewing your credit report annually for inaccuracies and to make sure older information that should have been removed is. You should also review who has been looking at your report to make sure it is only people who had a reason to do so. Compare your newest report to your previous one, but after that you can destroy the older report. Make sure to shred the old report so that it can’t be recovered for use by identity thieves.
Some financial experts may recommend reviewing your credit report once a month, but that can be costly since all but one of your 12 reports would need to be paid for. As a compromise between once a month and once a year, consider reviewing your credit report before you apply for a loan, mortgage or credit card. Whenever you request a new credit report, you need to dispose of your older report. You only need to hold onto your most-recent report.
Requesting Your Report
You can order your credit reports online, by phone or by mail. The three major credit reporting agencies work together and use a single website, phone number and address to get your report from all three reports.
- Federal Trade Commission; Building a Better Credit Report; March 2008
- USA.gov. "Credit Reports and Scores." Accessed June 18, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Is a Credit Score?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Check Your Credit Report at Least Once a Year." Accessed June 18, 2020.
- My FICO. "What's In Your Credit Report?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
- TransUnion. "Do You Know That There Are Three Credit Reporting Agencies?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
- TransUnion. "How Long Does it Take for a Credit Report to Update?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
- TransUnion. Public Records. Accessed June 18, 2020.
- Experian. "Can Utility Bills Appear on Your Credit Report?" Accessed June 18, 2020.
- Experian. "Can Medical Bills Hurt Your Credit?" Accessed June 25, 2020.
- Federal Trade Commission. "Credit Reports Now Free, Every Week." Accessed June 25, 2020.
James Rada, Jr. was a newspaper reporter for eight years and earned 23 awards from the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association, Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland State Teachers’ Association and CNHI. He also worked for 12 years as a marketing communications writer, earning a Print Copywriter of the Year Award from the Utah Ad Federation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications.