Credit bureaus

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It’s important to check your credit report at least once a year and more often if possible. This is the best way to protect your information and prevent identity theft.

Because having access to your credit report is so very important, Congress passed the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003. This law requires the three major U.S. credit agencies, Equifax, Experian (formerly TRW), and Trans Union, to provide you with your credit report at no charge. This is good for once a year to everyone who asks. If you are denied credit for any reason, you are also entitled by law to a free credit report. Just make sure you request your free credit report within 60 days of the denial. You might also want to ask for a list of everyone or every business that has requested a copy of your report in the last year.

When you are paying for your college education, your home or thinking about buying a car, all of these funding decisions are dependent on your credit. Your opportunity to get credit with a decent interest rate depends on your credit rating and score. Therefore, it’s important to take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about your history and what it says about you to lending institutions.

All three major credit bureaus put out different and competing reports. They don’t share information and so each report contains influences your overall credit scores. You must know what’s in each report so that you can stay on top of the correct data and dispute the false ones.

Access Reports

Important information about your personal details, credit history, and bankruptcies are contained within your credit reports. It also has the names of other interested parties who have viewed this information. The places with whom you fill out loan applications have access to all this information and you should see it before they do.

Contact each of the three credit bureaus in a variety of ways. Call toll-free at 1.877.322.8228 to have the reports mailed out. An easier way is to get the information online. Visit online sites to view your reports and print them from Equifax, Experian (formerly TRW), and Trans Union. You may wish to access all three reports at the same time, since you are entitled to view them for free once a year. Since the three reports might contain different information, you definitely want to view all three, but you don’t have to feel pressured to view them all at the same time.

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