The best way to see what your overall financial picture looks like is through your credit report. There are three credit reporting companies in the United States – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. The best way to get a complete understanding of how others view your creditworthiness is to to purchase a copy of your report from each one of these companies. Ordering one from just one of these firms is not enough as each report may contain differing information because not all creditors report to each of the three companies.
By law, you can get one free copy of your credit report from each of these companies. There is a third party service that was created by all three of the credit reporting companies that distributes credit reports from each of them. You can access them at annualcreditreport dot com.
If you’ve already received your free copies within the past 12 months, you’ll need to pay a fee to access additional copies. Most states limit this charge to $10 each, but there are some states that have mandated a lower fee. If in question, simply call your Attorney General’s office. There are plenty of unscrupulous folks out there that will gladly charge you significantly more that the law allows. No matter how good their packaged deal sounds, don’t fall for it.
You are always entitled to a free credit report if one of the following applies to you:
If you are currently unemployed, but are planning on applying for a job within the next 60 days
If you are currently receiving welfare assistance
If you have been or suspect that you have been the victim of identity theft
You have been rejected for credit, employment, insurance or rental property within the past two months, directly related to information in your credit report.
If you need to order additional copies of your credit report after you’ve already obtained your free copies within the past 12 months, you will need to contact each of the credit reporting companies individually. Their phone numbers and addresses can be located easily with a quick search online.
When ordering additional copies of your credit reports, be sure to include the following information:
Your Full Name – Including any suffix, such as Jr., Sr., etc.
Your Social Security Number
Your Date Of birth
Your current address and previous address for the past 5 years
Your phone number, including area code
The name of your current employer
Don’t dismiss the importance of knowing what is in your credit report. Not only can this knowledge save you from any potential embarrassment, it can also help you correct any mistakes and can help you in developing a long term plan in improving your credit.