Every American is entitled to at least one free credit report a year, and it is good practice to check yours regularly. For a start, you will be able to spot any inaccurate information, or fraudulent accounts in your name, and take the necessary action. You will also be able to see any derogatory information about your borrowing or personal circumstances that might be preventing you from achieving a better credit score. A good credit score is especially important if you are planning on taking out a big loan or preparing for some big life changes, such as a new job or home. If something is harming your file you (or your chosen credit repair service) can intervene quickly to put things right.
What is Included in a Free Credit Report?
Your free report will include your payment history, a record of any existing loans and other debt and additional financial information. Your home and employment address and a record of any legal suits, bankruptcy and arrests will also be visible. This is the same information that lenders will see when deciding whether to grant a loan or extend credit, and to determine what interest rate they will give you. Insurers, landlords and, with your permission, employers can also scrutinise this important document.
Your report will not contain your credit score, but this can be provided for a fee.
How to Order your Free Credit Report
There are only three ways in which you can obtain your free report, and you are only granted one free report per credit report agency per year (unless you are on welfare, have had credit declined or fall under other circumstances that allow you further reports).
The quickest way to access your credit report is usually via the official website at www.annualcreditreport.com and you should be given instant access unless extra information is required. Alternatively you can call or mail the request service but expect to wait two weeks or more for your file. In all cases you will need your Social Security number plus proof of your current, and sometimes previous, address.
Getting a Better Credit Score
If your credit file is in bad shape you will need to take action to achieve a better credit score. While many people choose to tackle the problem themselves, others opt to hire a credit repair service to take the stress out of the situation and maximise their chances of getting a better credit score. An example of a reputable credit repair service is Better Qualified. Speed Fund LLC work closely with Better Qualified to help their customers to deal with their debt in the most efficient manner.
Whether you work through a credit repair service or not, you should immediately dispute, in writing, any information which is inaccurate. Your dispute should go to both the credit reporting agency and the firm or individual who reported that information to the agency. The agencies are then duty-bound to investigate the issue within 30 days and to write to you with their findings. Even if the dispute is unresolved, you can pay a small fee to ensure the notice of dispute is included in any future report. This may not get you a better credit score, but it could have a positive impact on lenders’ decisions.