How to Check Your Credit Report for Free
Accessing your credit report can be done through a variety of ways. You're entitled to a free credit report once per year from each of the three major credit bureaus. You're also able to obtain a free credit report in situations, such as being a victim of fraud or receiving an adverse action notice from an lending institution or credit card company.
Obtaining Your Credit Report
The offical website to check your free yearly credit report is AnnualCreditReport.com. They are sponsored by the three major credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion and provides accurate, up-to-date reports from each of them.
AnnualCreditReport.com does not require your credit card information. It is a completely free process although additional paid options may be offered. You will, however, be required to provide some personal information such as your name, address and Social Security number to verify your identity.
Checking Your Credit Report More Often
There are some online websites and services that can provide you free access to your credit report by pulling information from participating bureaus.
Websites that offer free credit reports may only provide you reports from one or two of the bureaus instead of all three. These free credit report websites are not credit bureaus and don't collect any of the data compiled into your credit report from your specific creditors, lenders and other sources which means it may not be entirely accurate or as complete as a report provided by a credit bureau.
Popular Websites That Can Check Your Credit for Free
Credit Karma: This website provides weekly credit reports and Vantage Scores from Equifax and TransUnion, then uses that data to provide you personalized recommendations and offers to help you manage your finances. Free credit monitoring alerts you to changes made to your credit report to help you stay on top of fraudulant activity. They also provide an mobile app that is easy to use.
Credit Sesame: This website pulls a monthly credit report from TransUnion and then provides you with a personalized strategy and offers that can help you manage your credit and debt. They also provide free credit monitoring and access to your VantageScore.
Credit.com: They provide you with an Experian generated report and VantageScore every 14 days. Your data is then analyzed to create a credit report card and personalized recommendations for managing your credit and improving your score.
Why It's Important To Check Your Credit Report
Your credit report is a tool that can help you maintain and repair your credit standing. Whether you are applying for a large loan in the future (like a mortgage or auto loan) or just looking to get a handle on your finances, checking your credit report can give you the information you need in order to make smart decisions. There are three good reasons you should check your credit report.
1. Determine your creditworthiness and find areas you can improve on.
Lenders see the same information you see when you get your free credit report. They base their decisions off that information. If you have good credit with few to no negative credit marks, chances are high that you will get approved. On the other hand, lack of credit history or repeated late or missed payments, collections, and delinquencies may likely result in a decline or unfavorable terms such as high interest rates.
2. Identify and correct any inaccurate or outdated information.
Information on your credit report should be entirely your information and your credit history, but that's not always the case. False and inaccurate information can lead you to being denied credit when you should have otherwise been approved. Inaccurate or outdated information can be disputed with the corresponding credit bureau. They must verify, fix, or remove the erroneous information within thirty days.
3. To determine if you have been a victim of identity theft
Criminals can steal your identity and use it, creating problems on your credit. By checking your credit report you have the chance to catch any possible fraud or theft. Pay attention to accounts, credit cards, or sources of debt you don't remember being involved with or opening.