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What Should I Know About My Free Credit Report?

Published: March 9, 2015

You probably already know that good credit is really important. A good credit score is a powerful tool whether you’re renting an apartment or negotiating interest rates on a car loan or home mortgage. It can increase your spending power by increasing your credit card limits, while saving you money with lower interest rates on those credit cards. Over time, it can help save you a lot of money and help you build financial security. But how do you find out what your credit score is and where do you get those free credit reports that are always being advertising on television? Here are 4 things you should know about your free credit report:

What it is

Your credit report is a like a report card about your financial history. It provides information about your active credit accounts and your payment history. Creditors, lenders, and even employers use it to judge whether or not they think you’re a good risk. A good credit report tells someone who might be considering renting you an apartment that you’ll pay your rent on time. It tells the auto dealership that you’ll be able to afford that new car and make your payments. And it lets future employers know that you’re dependable and trustworthy.

It’s free!

Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, you are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the major U.S. credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. While they are not supposed to charge you any fee at all, don’t be surprised to get hit with a one-time fee of $1. Experian says it donates the fee to charity, while TransUnion includes your credit score—which they are not required to do—in the $1 fee for your credit report.

It’s easy to get

You can avoid all fees and get all three credit reports at once by accessing your annual credit report online. You can also contact any of the agencies directly to request your free credit report: Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Be careful, though. You’ll need to provide a credit card and your account will be charged an initial fee of $1 and a membership fee. You MUST cancel that membership immediately after signing up to avoid the fee and any additional fees.

It might be wrong

The credit bureaus get their information on your credit history from public records and from banks, credit card companies and other lenders that may have reported on you. The information is regularly updated, but credit reports can contain errors. It’s up to you to thoroughly examine your credit report. If you find errors, you’ll need to work with the reporting agency to fix the problem and then notify the credit bureaus of the change.

At Charter College, we want you to be successful in and out of the classroom and we know being financially responsible can help you meet your goals for success. Finding a career you love is another way! We offer career-focused programs in accounting, business, criminal justice, healthcare, hospitality, information technology, paralegal studies, veterinary assistance, and the trades. If you’re ready to change your life, start here.