By: Ms. J
Are you looking to make a big purchase this year? Do you want to buy a car, home or start a sole proprietorship? Congrats on your decision, but have you checked your credit report?
Your credit report is a report used by lenders to determine whether or not they should loan you money and how much interest you should be charged for that amount. This report is based on the debt that you have accumulated, whether they were/are paid on time, how much debt you are currently carrying, bankruptcy status, previous employers and your addresses. This information is garnered by the following reporting agencies:
- Equifax, 1-800-685-1111
Fraud Hotline: 1-888-766-0008
- Experian, 1-888-397-3742
Fraud Hotline: 1-888-397-3742
- TransUnion, 1-800-916-8800
Fraud Hotline: 1-800-680-7289
Based on the information from these 3 agencies, you are then given a FICO score from 300-850, with the highest score as the best. Starting from 18 years of age, your credit is considered in various aspects of your life ranging from renting a home, taking out a loan, getting a job and getting credit cards. Each year you should check your credit report at https://www.annualcreditreport.com and/or ask your credit card company to provide you with a copy.
Personally, I check my credit report every January. Key items I look for in my report are:
- Identity errors such as incorrect address, name spelling, date of birth
- Incorrect account details such as an account is open when it should be closed
- Fraud such as someone using my identity to open accounts
- FICO score (may have to pay for)
- Feedback report and recommendations issued by the reporting agencies on ways to improve or maintain my credit standing
Should you find a discrepancy within your report, immediately dispute with the credit bureau or lender by finding supporting evidence and enclosing it in a letter.
Remember that you are entitled to one free credit report from each agency every year. You can check all at once every year or check one each quarter (every 4 months).