Monday, March 2, 2009

Find out about Your Credit for Free

This is such an important subject, and one that is too often overlooked by so many people. Do you know what's on your credit report? There was a time, I'm ashamed to admit, that I could actually say no to that question. Once I set out to change that (when we were interested in buying a house), I had a crash course in credit bureaus, credit scores and credit repair.

You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com and get all three of your credit reports for free, without having to get out your credit card or subscribe to a service. This site takes you to Equifax, Transunion and Experian. You can do it all in one visit, or you can spread it out over the year. Since it takes you directly to the credit bureaus' sites, you can also take action immediately if you find errors on your credit report. You can use this site to gain access to your reports once a year for each credit bureau.

You might not think that there would be errors on your credit report, but you could very well be wrong. We found out, by doing this very check-up, that there was another man, living in our state, who shares my husband's exact name. I only wish I were kidding. We found hospital bills, cell phone bills and judgments against this other man on my husband's credit report. It was easy enough to fix once we found it, since the social security numbers and birthdays didn't match up, but if we hadn't fixed it, it could have prevented us from getting any credit.

Errors do matter and they can affect whether or not you get a job, how much you pay for insurance, whether or not you're approved for a loan and even whether or not a landlord will approve your application for renting a place.

If you find an error in your report, you don't have to hire anyone to fix it. It's so easy to fix it yourself. You dispute the item online (which can be done at the credit bureau's website), or even over the phone if you prefer. You will also want to call the company that is involved in the item you're disputing to make the updated report go through faster (and in your favor).

We had so many errors in our report, that by the time I was finished disputing and making phone calls, our credit rating went up about 100 points. This dramatically lowered the interest rates we qualified for, and our home and auto insurance rates were dropped quite a bit as well.

Also know that if you have been turned down for credit, refused insurance or lost out on a job because of your credit, this automatically entitles you to a free credit report. So don't be afraid to get yours ASAP!

Here are the credit bureaus websites. You cannot access your free yearly credit reports by using these though. For that, use the link I gave you at the beginning of this blog.

www.experian.com
www.transunion.com
www.equifax.com

For more information on credit issues, check out this site I found:
http://www.completecreditservices.com