It’s already March and if you haven’t done your yearly credit report check and update it’s never a better time like the present. Your credit report is probably one of the most important parts of your financial life and, if you want to make sure that it stays healthy, a bi-annual checkup and dust off is always a great idea. With that in mind here are some excellent tips and advice for doing just that. Enjoy.
First, ordering a copy of your credit report from the Big 3 Credit Agencies is a must. Experian, Equifax and TransUnion are their names and they, by law, must give you a yearly free copy of your report. (When you check again in July you’ll have to pay.) The reason you need all 3 is that they don’t share information with each other and just because one doesn’t have any errors doesn’t mean the other 2 do not.
Once you have all 3 in your possession you’ll want to know the signs of identity theft so that, if your identity has been compromised, you can get right to work on fixing the problem. Any accounts that don’t look familiar, inquiries that you don’t recall or store credit cards that you never applied for are suspect. Looking at your address and other ID info on the letterhead is also a good idea and, if wrong even slightly, could mean that you’ve been compromised.
The next steps are crucial. Responding to every single error that you have is necessary and should be done with certified mail as well so that you have a timeline of when things got started with your complaint. Working directly with the credit card or other financial institution that reported the false info is a good idea as well and sometimes can be faster but keep copious notes and document everything.
One thing you don’t want to do is stress over small fluctuations in your credit report because, frankly, there will always be a few of those and a few points up or down normally are no cause for alarm unless you have done absolutely nothing with you credit for a number of months.
In the end if you check your credit report at least twice a year and know the signs that something isn’t right you should be just fine and not have problems. It’s the people who disregard their credit and get a surprise when they go to get a loan that normally have the problems so, basically, don’t do that. Good luck.