The credit report has become a thing of mystery for some reason. People go years without pulling their credit for fear of the unknown, but you should look annually at your report to monitor for fraud and just to see what’s going on. You don’t want to apply for a mortgage and find things you didn’t know existed, which you then will have to straighten out while someone else grabs that condo you wanted.
When I worked in finance, we had a great young couple who came in to get a car loan. They had moved out of a previous home 18 months before and somehow their last cable bill had not gotten paid. They never received any notices (according to them), so they had no idea they had this huge black mark on their credit. After several phone calls they were able to pay the bill and bring in a receipt. Then there was paperwork to fill out to send to the credit bureau and that takes at least 30 days to process (assuming they don’t find anything wrong with your documentation). All of this held up their ability to get a car loan.
Where to Get Your Credit Report for Free
There are three credit bureaus that track your information—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. You should find the information on all three to be similar, but rarely will it be 100% the same. It may only be different by a few points, but if your score is on the border, one score might push you over the top, so it can be good to see all three.
The United States government allows you one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company. At the time of publication, the only way to be 100% sure it’s free is to use AnnualCreditReport.com. This will give you copies from every agency to compare, and they won’t try to sell you any products.
Laura M. Oliver is the author of Singles: Take Control of Your Own Financial Journey. It is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.