KristiLyn Wilkinson, M.S.
USU Extension Empowering Financial Wellness Program Manager
You are probably aware that a history of how you manage your credit and debt obligations is being kept. You might not be aware that there are three agencies, Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, that are keeping track of all of this information.
Did you know that you can look at your credit report for free and it won’t negatively impact your credit? This is probably the most common credit myth out there- that looking at your credit report or score negatively impacts your score! It doesn’t! In fact, checking your credit regularly should definitely be on your list of “things I do when I’m adulting.”
You can get a copy of your credit report for free from each of the three credit bureaus once in a 12-month period from annualcreditreport.com. There are a lot of fake sites set up to make you think you are getting your report for free, but they have you sign up for a credit monitoring service or charge you for your credit report. Annualcreditreport.com will not ask you for any banking information in order to give you your report. They will ask you a series of questions about your financial life to confirm that it is actually you, so hopefully you remember the address of the place where you lived 15 years ago in Florida when you opened your credit card! Just kidding, you hopefully don’t have to reach that far back, but they will ask you questions about current loans, or even make up loans that you never got, to see if you can answer the question correctly. That’s a good thing, it’s added security protection.
Each credit bureaus report looks slightly different, but they all contain the same information listed below:
When you are reviewing your credit report, you want to look for any potentially negative items listed and make sure you address those. Errors on your credit report are very common. There are often errors so significant that you could be denied credit. If there is an error on your credit report, you can open a dispute on the website of the credit bureau that is misreporting that information.
One last important thing to note. If you ever apply for credit and are denied, the credit bureau is required to send you a copy of your credit report so you can see why you were denied credit. So, what are you waiting for? Head over to annualcreditreport.com and get a copy of your credit report today! It’s not as hard or intimidating as you might think!
Source: National Consumer Law Center. 2020. Surviving Debt. Expert Advice for Getting Out of Financial Trouble.
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