Everyone has access to their credit report—it’s a good idea to check yours annually to keep your eye on your activity and correct any inaccuracies that may appear. The Federal Trade Commission's Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each of the nationwide credit reporting companies—Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion®—to provide a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. This can be found at annualcreditreport.com. Although large creditors report information to all three companies, smaller lenders or merchants may only report to one. Get a more accurate perspective on your credit by requesting all three reports.
While your credit report won’t include your credit score (unless you opt to pay for it), it will include your account history and any delinquencies. Checking your own credit report won’t affect your credit score.
Review your reports and look for any inaccuracies, such as accounts that don’t belong to you or addresses where you didn’t live. If you come across any errors, your report includes instructions to help you properly dispute them. Here is a sample report to give you an idea of the information you’ll be reviewing:
- Personal Profile:This section has your personal information, including legal name, date of birth, current and previous addresses, and current and previous employers.
- Credit Summary: This section has a broad overview of your credit status, including the number of open and closed accounts in your name, as well as their balances and any delinquencies.
- Public Records: This section contains information from federal district bankruptcy records, state and county court records, tax liens and monetary judgments, and in some states, overdue child support records. Public records remain on your credit report for 7 to 10 years.
- Credit Inquiries: This section shows who requested your credit score. Inquiries can remain on your report for up to two years.
- Account History: This section contains specific information for each of your accounts; all positive information remains indefinitely.
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