Free Credit Reports
Keeping track of your credit history through your credit report is an extremely important part of any family financial plan. Mistakes can (and do) happen in credit reports and your best defense is to catch the errors early–before any mistakes on the report can hurt your chances of securing a loan. Click here for a free copy of your credit report from freecreditreport.com.
Why have a copy of your current credit report?
Loan Applications: If you are planning to apply for credit of any type–mortgage, car loan, credit card or personal loan–having a copy of your credit report in hand will allow you to have any potential problems corrected as well as concentrate on any problem accounts before the lender has a chance to look at your report and possibly deny you credit. Even if you are not planning a loan application in the near future, correcting problems now is much easier than needing to do so during the time of an application, when time is often limited.
As a Budget Tool: If you want to develop an effective family budget, a copy of your credit report can be a valuable tool. Not only will it give you a clear picture of where your money is going now (so that you can make plans on which items to cut), it will give you most of your current credit account balances (so you can make decisions on where to best concentrate your efforts for maximum effect.)
Where can you get a copy of your credit report?
If you have recently been denied credit, you can receive a free copy of your credit report from the bureau that issued the report on which the credit decision was based. The largest credit reporting agencies in the U.S. and their toll-free phone numbers are:
What if there are errors in the credit report?
Late payment reporting errors: If your report shows late payments that were actually current, call the credit issuer–bank, credit card company, department store, etc.–(their phone number is often right on the credit report) and tell them about the error. If it actually is in error, they should agree to remove it. Get the name of the person you speak to and have them send a letter to you that confirms the change. In addition, make certain that they agree to forward the updated information to all of the credit bureaus to whom they report. Although corrections to the credit bureau may take up to 60 or 90 days, the letter from the credit issuer should arrive within a few days. If not, follow up and get verification of the change in writing!
Wrong account errors: You may find that you will have accounts showing on your credit report that do not belong to you–they may be accounts belonging to another family member or even a complete stranger with a similar name or social security number. Again, contact the credit issuer and get the erroneous account removed from your credit report. Make sure that they delete the erroneous account from your record at all credit bureaus to whom they report as well as mail you a letter confirming the deletion. If you don’t get the letter, follow up!
Of course, none of these changes are possible unless you have a copy of your credit report in hand. For more information, visit freecreditreport.com for a free copy of your report.