Credit Check: What is My Credit Report and Does it Matter?
Creating a credit check ritual is important to maintaining your credit health. If you have any experience with trying to get a loan, trying to buy a new car, or even looking around for a new apartment, you might know just how important your credit score and your credit report can be. Government agencies, landlords, lending agencies, and just about any other institution that you have financial dealings with might check your credit report or credit score before doing business with you – and your credit plays a major role in the success you have with these institutions. What’s on your credit report determines your credit score, so it is important that you know exactly what your report looks like. The good news is, you can check it for free! Try it now:
How to Get a Credit Check
There are several options for checking your credit score online or through an institution, and there is no limit to how often and when you can do this. However, as far as credit reports are concerned, you are entitled to one free report per year from each of the United States’ three credit-reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can always request more reports after accessing your free ones each year, but you’ll have to pay for those. However, there’s no need to fear; these companies can’t legally charge more than $12 for a report. Some experts advise that it’s best to take advantage of these free reports by requesting them periodically instead of all at once. This way, you’ll be able to track changes in your report throughout the year as opposed to seeing three reports at once and then not being able to track your score later on in the year. The only official website for requesting a credit report, according to the Federal Trade Commission, is annualcreditreport.com. You can also call 1-877-322-8228 or fill out and mail the Annual Credit Request Form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-528.
Get started on your free credit check now:
What is the Credit Check Process?
But what’s the process like to request a free credit report? When you log on to annualcreditreport.com, you will be asked to provide your name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. You may also need to provide a previous address if you’ve recently moved. Depending on the agency you choose to request a report from, you might be asked personal questions that only you will know the answer to. Typically, you’ll get access to your free report as soon as you’re finished with your online application. However, if you requested the report via the Annual Credit Report Form or by phone, a wait time of 15 days is normal.
It’s important to check your credit report often because your report is what informs your FICO and VantageScore credit scores. If your FICO score seems strangely low, for example, you can examine your credit report to see whether there are any inaccuracies or if any information is missing or incomplete. It is important to note, however, that your credit score might not be visible on your credit report. Although this is the case, it’s still pretty easy to do a credit score check! Most credit card issuers provide their customers with free credit checks, and there are many banking institutions, like American Express and Capital One, that provide credit scores to people who aren’t cardholders. In addition, there are a plethora of online tools that will allow you to check your credit score, such as the credit check tools at credit.com and freecreditscore.com. You can use our credit monitoring tool to check your FICO credit score.