Why you should care about your credit reports and your credit score:
Errors. 70% to 80% of all credit reports contain errors.
1 in 4contain serious errors that could result in denial of credit. Regardless of your age, it is important to correct errors as soon as possible. You cannot predict when you might need an accurate credit report.
ID theft. According to Money magazine, "It's only a matter of time. The odds are increasing that it could hit you." Monitoring your credit reports will help you identify a potential problem early, when it's easier to fix.
Credit Scores. They are no longer used only by mortgage companies and auto dealers. For example: auto insurance companies now use them to determine your insurance premiums when you apply to a new company, and each time you renew your policy. Bottom line the lower your credit score, the higher your premiums.
You can now get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion once every 12 months. Many experts recommend that you stagger your requests. That way, you can get a free report every four months and monitor your credit history throughout the year.
The right to receive a free credit report is an important new tool for you. But, credit reports tell only half the story. To be sure that your financial house is in order, you also need to know your credit score and that is NOT free.
Each of the three companies uses a different formula to compute a credit score. The most important is your FICO score (scores computed by Fair Isaac Corp.) since it is used by most financial companies. Only Equifax sells FICO scores to consumers. Expect to pay $14.95. (However, you can estimate your FICO score with the Free FICOŽ Credit Score Estimator.)
In return, you'll receive their "Score Power" report. You will learn about the positive factors that helped increase your FICO score. And, you'll see the negative factors which hurt your score and find suggestions as to how you can correct the problems.
Order your free credit reports online by contacting each credit reporting company via the links below:
Equifax Continuous score monitoring can help you get better interest rates, saving you money.
For more information, read the Federal Trade Commission's article, "Consumers Across the Country Eligible for Free Annual Credit Reports."
Important Note: Despite rumors to the contrary, your credit score will NOT be affected if YOU ask for a copy of your credit report. It may, however, be affected whenever you apply for credit, especially if you apply within a short period of time at two or more banks, credit cards or stores.
If you believe that any information in your credit report is not correct, notify the reporting company in writing, and keep a copy of your letter. (Your credit report will include clear instructions as to how to go about disputing incorrect information.) The credit reporting company must investigate your complaint usually within 30 days. If they agree that the information you described is wrong, they must fix it and give you a free copy of your corrected report.
If your credit report is OK, but you have a poor credit history, there is no quick fix. Even though you will hear or see ads from many companies who claim that they will repair your credit, don't waste your money. It's a ripoff they can't do what they claim.
Only you can fix your credit history by changing how you pay your bills and handle other aspects of your finances. That will take time several years so, the sooner you start, the better. You'll find helpful guidance when you purchase a "Score Power" report from Equifax. As we said earlier, you will see the negative factors which hurt your score and find suggestions as to how you can correct the problems. And, you'll also see what you are doing right.
If you have an OK credit history, but would like to raise your credit score, follow these 5 steps.
Correct mistakes in your credit reports
Pay your bills on time
Reduce your credit card balances
Don't close unused credit card accounts
Pay off debt instead of transferring the balances
When you apply for a loan, your lender may be able to help you quickly improve your credit score and reduce your interest rate. With new tools available, they can show you how you can best use some cash on hand to raise your score high enough to get a lower rate. After you do as suggested, the lender can then ask for a rapid re-score. Usually within days, you'll have a new credit profile and qualify for a lower interest rate.
Order a 3-Bureau Credit Report from CreditReporting.com for $34.90. See what's in your report3 today to insure 100% accuracy tomorrow! Add all 3 of your Credit Bureau Scores for only $9.95 more.