Your credit report is a useful tool that helps you understand what financial information is impacting your credit score. On top of that, you can also use it to detect any fraudulent activity, such as accounts in your name that you never opened or excessive balances on existing cards that aren’t from you.
While there’s no need to worry about your credit report every single day, you can impose multiple checkpoints throughout the year to make sure you’re adequately tracking your credit for your financial needs and for your identity protection. Follow these simple tips for staying on top of your credit with regular credit report checks.
Annual Credit Check-up
If you’re wondering how often you should check your credit report, the bare minimum is once every year. The three major credit bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and they are required by federal law to provide you with one free credit report each year. This gives you the opportunity to review all your account information. During your annual check-up, make sure your balances are all accurate. Also, make sure there aren’t any new loans or credit cards that you never opened.
It’s also smart to ensure any negative information that’s listed is correct. Make sure any late payments are actually true. They should automatically drop off after seven years. If you see anything older than that, you can dispute the entry with the relevant credit bureau.
Other Times to Check Your Credit Report
In addition to checking your credit report on an annual basis, you may also want to give it a thorough once-over in a few other situations. They may not be common in your life and are often associated with major life events. Check out these situations so you can perform a credit report check at the right times.
Applying for New Credit
Your credit report influences your credit score, which in turn affects whether you’ll be approved for new credit. It also impacts the interest rate you’ll receive, so if something is incorrect on your credit report, you could inadvertently pay more interest for new credit you get.
Something as simple as getting a credit card is worth checking your credit report, especially if you plan on carrying a balance. More importantly, however, is when you’re applying for a large loan, such as a mortgage or auto loan. These are typically longer-lasting balances, so you want to make sure your credit report is as strong as possible to avoid getting denied or carrying high-interest balances for years to come.
Searching for a New Job or Apartment
It may surprise you, but your credit report may be pulled by potential employers or landlords when you apply for a job or rental property. New employers likely want to know that you can handle responsibilities, especially if you work in a finance-related industry or handle money in some way. Landlords, on the other hand, want to feel confident that you’ll pay your rent each month. If you have a lot of late payments on your credit report, they may not want to approve your rental application.
Checking your credit report ahead of time not only lets you ensure its accuracy but also lets you see what your new employer or landlord will see. If there is an extenuating circumstance surrounding some of the entries on there, you can write a letter of explanation. This helps them view you as more than a number and can improve your chances if you have negative information on your credit report.
How to Check Your Credit Report
You can get a free copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com once a year. You can either get all three of the reports at the same time, or you can request to only get one of the reports at a time. This is a good option if you want to stagger the reports throughout the year if you’re on a budget.
If you need to monitor your credit reports more frequently, then you’ll have to pay. Each credit bureau offers different payment plans, where you can either enroll for monthly updates or just pay to check your report a single time.
If you’re just interested in a single report, the cost is:
- TransUnion: $9.95
- Equifax: $15.95
- Experian: $14.95
Get Professional Credit Repair Help!
Not sure how to get those inaccurate entries removed from your credit report? Ovation Credit can help. Sign up for a free consultation today and find out how we can help you improve your credit score.