Posted on: Feb. 21, 2017 in Credit, Credit Score

Credit scores. For some, it’s all they can talk about. For others, it’s the last thing they want to talk about! And for many, it’s somewhere in between. Because discussing money, credit scores, finances and the like can be viewed as taboo in many circle, some people are left not knowing how to get the information they need to make smart financial decisions.


The best place to start when it comes to fully understanding your credit is to order your credit report. The three largest credit bureaus in the United States are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Each one may have slightly different information about you, so it’s a good idea to look at all three. The Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates that you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Federal law has authorized the website www.AnnualCreditReport.com to provide credit reports to consumers. You can request reports from all three bureaus through this one site.

Although you’re entitled to one report from each bureau every 12 months, you don’t have to order them all at once. Another option is to stagger them so that you’re able to keep a closer eye on things throughout the year. For example, let’s say you order your Equifax report on January 1 of each year. Then you could order your Experian report May 1, and then the TransUnion report on September 1. On January 1 of the following year, you would order Equifax again. By rotating through the reports, you’re still getting one from each annually, but you’re spacing it out so that you’re looking at one credit report every four months.

Your credit report will not show your credit score. They will, however, show payment history on all types of debt such as credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, and student loans. It will show how much credit you’re using, how much you have available, and if you’ve missed payments. It will also show inquiries – such as if you’ve applied for credit. It may also show “soft” inquiries, such as if you’re applying for insurance or looking to raise your credit limit on existing accounts.

Review your report carefully to make sure the information it contains is accurate. Doing so can not only correct mistakes, which happen more often than you’d think, but it can also spot fraud. If you do find something that appears inaccurate or suspicious, you can contact the credit bureau the report originated from and report the dispute.

Once you have your reports under control, you can examine your score and ways to improve it. Look for more information on this blog to find out how.

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