How To Check Your Credit Report | Credit card


Checking your credit report regularly is an essential part of maintaining your financial health. It gives you a chance to focus on the debts you still owe and alerts you to signs of fraud or identity theft.

But the actual process of extracting your credit history isn’t entirely straightforward. Here’s how to check your credit report.

Start in the right place. Head toward annualcreditreport.com where you can get three free credit reports each year, one from each of the three credit bureaus.

Before pulling out your credit report, decide whether you want to view just one or all three at once. Consider pulling all three if this is your first time accessing your credit report, says Gerri Detweiler, market education manager for Nav, a credit service for business owners, based in San Mateo. , in California. This way, you can catch any errors before they further damage your credit health. “The next year, if you want to start staggering them, I think it’s fine as long as you monitor your credit scores with all three bureaus,” she says.

You can also request your report by phone or mail. Although these methods are not as user-friendly as the online system, they are available for those who wish to use them.

Gather your information. You’re going to need some basic information at your fingertips — or in your head — before you can access your credit history. The credit report site will ask you for personal information, including your name, date of birth, social security number, and address. You will select the credit bureau – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion – to which you wish to provide your report.

Next, you will be asked to answer a few verification questions to confirm your identity and deter potential fraudsters. You may be asked to answer multiple-choice questions about previous employers, credit card debt, and other personal loan information. These questions can be surprisingly tricky and you could get it wrong. “If you have an older credit report that you can refer to, that can be a good resource,” says Detweiler. Remember, she adds, that “none of the above” is often an option in these multiple-choice verification tests, and it may be the correct answer.

Read the report. After accessing your credit report, print it out, says Rod Griffin, director of public education for Experian. If you don’t have a printer handy, download the report so you have a digital copy on file.

Although it may be 25 pages, full of unknown numbers and names, don’t be intimidated by your credit report. “You don’t need any kind of special training to read a report,” says Griffin.

When you scroll through your credit history, you should see your personal information, including your name, current and previous addresses, and phone number. The report lists past and current debts, including student loans, credit card debt, mortgage debt, auto loans, and more.

Scroll down to see a list of difficult requests on your credit report that you should recognize from previous credit card, car loan, mortgage and other debt applications. These remain in your file for a few years. You will also see informal inquiries or promotional requests from companies seeking to offer you some form of credit or insurance. You may not recognize them, but don’t worry. Promotional requests are only visible to you and do not affect your score.

You might be surprised by what’s missing from your free credit report: your credit score. If you wish to check your credit score, you will need to do so separately. Try heading to sites such as Credit Karma, Credit.com, and Credit Sesame, which may give out free scores (in exchange for registering with your personal information). Your credit card issuer may also include a credit score with your regular statement.

Get ready for next time. Now that you’ve uploaded your credit report, mark on your calendar when you can request the next one — in four months (if you requested one) or a year (if you requested all three). If you’ve noticed an issue with fraud or identity theft, it might be worth using a credit monitoring service, says Detweiler. If not, you should expect to continue to get your free annual credit report from each of the bureaus in the future.

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