You may be in the habit of checking your Facebook feed when you wake up and before you go to bed (and maybe in between), you might check your reflection in store windows on your way to an appointment, or check your teeth for food with your camera phone before your date comes back to the table… shouldn’t you also be checking your credit report at least once a year? The answer is yes, you should. It doesn’t even have to cost you any money or more than a few minutes of your time!
Checking your credit report at least once a year helps you to monitor your financial health and ensure that there are no signs of fraudulent activity associated with any of your accounts. You want to be sure that you have no open accounts of which you are unaware, and that when you are paying your bills, the information is being properly reported to the credit bureau. If you want to apply for a loan, it’s a good idea to check out your credit score. If you’ve been rejected for credit, the need to check your score is even more imperative!
Obtaining your credit report by mail once a year through TransUnion and Equifax is completely free. The only catch is that it won’t include your credit score. However, if you’ve been paying your bills on time, if you haven’t applied for much credit recently, and if you are using less than 75% of your available credit, you shouldn’t worry about paying to know your exact credit score; it will be in good shape.
However, if you have any reason to believe that you may have been the victim of fraud, if you are trying to rapidly improve your poor credit, or if you’ve been rejected for additional credit and you want to know why, it might be worthwhile to subscribe to a monthly service to monitor your score and account ratings in detail. You will receive immediate alerts if any suspicious activity is noted or if an account rating suddenly drops.
The easiest way to receive a free credit report is simply to phone Equifax at 1-800-465-7166 and TransUnion at 1-800-663-9980. Make sure that you follow the directions carefully and enter all of your information accurately, or you might be automatically rejected. Your report should arrive in the mail in 2-4 weeks.