Monday, May 27, 2013

Credit Reports: What, How, and When

Focus on the "Finance" part.


Read this if: 

1) You have no idea what a credit report is. 
2) You know what it is, but don't know where to get one. 
3) You don't know when to get one. 

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What Is It? 

A credit report is like a financial report card. Three agencies keep tabs on you and generate those reports: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. You can get three free reports a year (one from each agency), and after that you have to pay a fee. Each one looks a little bit different and might even contain different information.

It's important to get your credit report regularly once you start establishing credit because mistakes happen often and you don't want something false on your credit report to reflect badly on you. It's like if your college transcript had a stamp that said you cheated, when you really didn't. 


How do I get one? 

Go to annualcreditreport.com and follow the on-screen instructions. From there, you can request a report from any of the agencies listed above. 

When do I get one? 

Jean Chatzky wrote in her book Money 911 that since you get three free ones, you should get one every four months and look for any errors. Another tip (I forgot where I read this) is to check your credit report a couple months before you apply for loans or credit cards so that you have time to fix errors before someone else pulls your report and looks at it to determine your eligibility and rates. 

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Plan of Action: 

1) Make a habit of checking your credit report, especially if you have a credit card or loans in your name! 
2) Check out this site for some more information: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/debt/11-credit-report-myths-1.aspx 

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As always, contact me with questions or suggestions! You can either comment directly on the post or send me an email to moneymattersjoan@gmail.com. 

Photo credit: amboo who? via photopin cc

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