Here’s How to Get Your Credit Report and Credit Score
Whether you are trying to improve your credit score, want to know your credit score so that you can apply for a loan, or want to monitor your overall credit report because you are concerned about identity theft, there are many tools you can use.
It is a good idea to check your overall credit report regularly because doing so will help you monitor your account in case something unusual pops up, and that way you can dispute any errors quickly. In addition, you will want to check your report regularly because it includes information about your credit history, including lenders, and sometimes, regular bills. It also includes your private information (name, address, Social Security Number, credit cards, information about how often you pay your bills on time, and so on.)
People sometimes get a credit report confused with a credit score, which is a number based on your credit report. Errors in your credit report will directly affect your credit score, so you need to be vigilant about monitoring your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion (credit reporting agencies) to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once per year.
This means that if you plan carefully, you can receive a free credit report every four months. AnnualCreditReport.com is the central website that the three companies use for you to request your score. This is their website, and it is very important to go directly through this website – it the only website that is authorized to give free annual credit reports (as far as the law entitles you).
There are several other websites that offer free credit reports, or even free scores. However, they are not associated with the free annual credit report program at all. Many of the sites claim to be free but will charge you after a free trial, or require you to fill out information and then inform you of a charge.
There are also websites that take advantage of the fact that many users will mistype the AnnualCreditReport.com’s Web address. Operators of these sites may then try to sell you something or steal your personal information, resulting in identity theft. If you think you may have already visited one of these sites, you need to act immediately. You will never receive a call from someone who actually works for AnnualCreditReport.com: they never call or email to ask for your personal information.
If you already regularly monitor your credit report and you want to keep track of your credit score, there are some legitimate websites that can help you with that, as well. Credit Karma is one site that includes a free credit score and provides an estimate of your credit score regularly. It also includes free interactive tools that help you to anticipate changes in your score.
It features a credit report card that will allow you to learn more about your credit report, determine how financial institutions use the information, and also to compare your credit report with others. If you are interested in credit score monitoring, this site might work for you.
Monitoring your credit score will help you anticipate whether you will be able to get a good loan and what interest rates you might face. FICO scores are the most widely used, and they range from 300 to 850. The higher the score you have, the better. Usually a score over 700 is ideal, but it will depend on the lender and situation.
There are many ways you can improve your credit score, too, including paying your bills on time, reducing debt, avoiding opening too many accounts at once, having a low balance to outstanding credit line percentage, and more.
While it is a good idea to regularly check your credit report and to check your credit score as needed, make sure that you use legitimate sites. As useful as credit reports, credit scores, and credit monitoring can be, you don’t want to give your private information to just anyone.