By law, every consumer is allowed one free credit report per year from each major credit reporting agency (CRA): Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Mark on your calendar to go to annualcreditreport.com every four months and pull one of your credit reports. You’ll also be given a chance to see your credit score for a small fee.
When you look at your credit report, there are a few things in particular to which you should be paying attention. Ask the following questions:
- Is my personal information (name and address) correct?
- Is my account payment history correct for each creditor?
- Are the balances and account age (date opened) correct for each of my accounts?
- Are there any inquiries on my credit report for an account for which I did not apply?
- Are there any inactive accounts that show new activity?
If any of the information on your credit report is incorrect, you’ll want to file a dispute right away by directly notifying the CRA that gave you the report. At Equifax, you can file a dispute online, by mail, or by phone. If there’s a mistake, look at your credit report from the other two CRAs as well. Note that if you’re filing a dispute, you don’t need to go through annualcreditreport.com; you can instead contact each agency directly to correct the inaccurate information.
Accessing and monitoring your credit report more often
Sometimes you might want or need more frequent access to your credit report than every four months. For example, if you’re planning a big purchase in the next year, such as a house, you might want to keep a close eye on your credit report. And if you’re actively working to improve your credit score, you’ll want to see all the activity to watch how your hard work is paying off.
Credit-monitoring products like those offered by Equifax can help you keep tabs on your credit report. Such products enable consumers to track and protect their credit and identity throughout the year by monitoring at least one, but oftentimes all three, of their nationwide credit reports and alerting them of key changes to the information in their credit files.
If you’ve been a victim of identity theft or you want to prevent it from happening, these products can closely monitor the activity on your credit report. Credit-monitoring products can help you quickly identify any unauthorized changes—and the sooner you identify fraud on your credit report, the easier it will be to get started on the path to restoring your identity.
There are many credit monitoring products on the market, and price should not be the greatest determining factor in which one you use. Make sure that the product you choose provides the features you need. If you want to give yourself more protection with one of these products, take a look at your options and decide what’s best for you.
The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.