Credit Report Reminder

Dec 5, 2012 by

free annual credit reportBecause you obviously spend too much time cruising personal finance blogs and websites, I bet you already know that all Americans can get a free copy of their credit report annually. (Click the “Free credit report” link in the Resources category in the right sidebar of this page to learn more.) But did you know that you can—and should—get three free credit reports every twelve months? It’s true.

Credit Reporting Bureaus

Here’s the deal: In the U.S., credit reports are produced by three different “bureaus,” called TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These organizations are independent of each other, but are sort of in the same business. If you have a credit history, the chances are excellent that each will have in its database a credit report on you. By law, you’re entitled to one free credit report every twelve months from each of these three bureaus.

Check out this very short video from the FTC for an overview of when, why, and how you should check your credit report:

Why Bother Getting a Report Every Year from Each Bureau?

There are at least two excellent reasons you should take the time to exercise your right to get a free credit report from each bureau each year:

  1. The reports can differ! That’s right, just because one of your three credit report is accurate does not mean the other two are also error free. You have to check each one. When you apply for a loan or a job or for an apartment, you don’t know which bureau’s report the bank or employer or landlord will use to check you out.
  2. You can catch identity theft sooner. One of the main reasons for curling up with your credit report is to see if a crook is opening credit accounts and borrowing money in your name. By spreading out the timing of accessing your three free credit reports—get one of the three every four months, cycling through the bureaus, rather than getting all three at the same time once per year—you’ll catch on to possible identity theft sooner than otherwise.

What’s Your Experience?

Have you obtained and compared credit reports from more than one of the reporting bureaus? Did you find differences among the reports? Did you find errors on any of your reports?

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