Posted by: Sheri Lukasiewicz @ Peace by Piece | October 29, 2010

You get Credit for Checking Your Credit Report

Have you checked your credit report lately?  If getting your finances organized is one of your goals, you’ll want to do this task; and with online capabilities, it really doesn’t take all that long.  If you’ve stumbled a bit financially, or if you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you will definitely want to check it to see what’s on there.  If you’re considering buying a home, you will want to access your report prior to the qualification stage, in order to clear up any errors that may be on your report.

We’ve all seen those zany ads for credit report sites, but only one is truly ‘free’.  The site you want to go to is www.annualcreditreport.com.   The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that U.S. consumers be entitled to a free credit report each year. It’s a method to make sure that consumers stay informed about what that report holds and fight identity theft.  This site will give you your report free of charge.  It will NOT give you your credit score free of charge.

At this site, you will need to enter some personal information, and it will ask security questions about info on your report that only YOU should know the answer to.  For instance, if you have a home mortgage, it will list the names of four different banks, and you will have to select the bank name that holds your mortgage.  This is done to protect you from anyone else accessing your report. 

If you are in a bit of a financial mess, and you’re trying to clean your report up, here’s a tip for you to access your report every 4 months to watch for progress as you work your way through your debt.  When you access the above site, you will find the three major credit reporting agencies listed there.  They are Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.  You can access each of those three reports once each year, free of charge.  What you can do, is check only one of the three at a time, and go back to the site every four months.   Each time you go, select the next reporting agency in line.   

For example, let’s say you go to the site Nov. 1st and select Experian.  You will want to print off the report, so you can review it.  Four months later, on Mar. 1st, go back to this same site, only this time, select Equifax.  Print and review.  Four months later, July 1st, go to the site and select Trans Union.  In four months from that date, it will have been a year since you first selected Experian, and so you can go to the site and select Experian again, and so you go.

So you have your report in hand.  What now?  Look at each entry and verify if you truly do owe that debt, and if the amount reported is the correct amount.  If you find errors, take immediate action to correct them.  Your printed report gives directions on how you can dispute items online.  If you do it that way, make certain you make thorough notes, including dates, of what you disputed.  I recommend that you contact both the credit reporting agency AND to creditor IN WRITING, and support your claim with whatever proof you have.  Make photocopies of all of your correspondence, and keep in a file with your printed report.

So access your credit report soon, and here’s hoping you find only factual & financially fit information.  But if not, it’s better to be informed, so you can clear any errors as you work to get your financial life in order!  Here’s to your well organized, financial fitness!!

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