At first glance, your credit report may seem intimidating, especially If you haven’t looked at it before. However, if a home purchase or auto loan is in your near future, it’s good to prepare by scanning your credit report before your prospective lenders do. That way, you can correct any mistakes or take action to improve your credit in order to avoid higher interest rates or loan rejection. While we can get credit report information for free, we’ll also investigate what it is we can obtain from one major credit bureau.
Your Truly Free Credit Reports
Once a year, you can order free annual credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. This site will help you obtain your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Unlike some sites that claim they are free, this offer doesn’t require you to sign up for a subscription to a particular service to see your reports. I went through the process a few months ago and found that it wasn’t complicated and it didn’t take too much of my time.
According to the FTC, you’ll need to give your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to get your free reports. If you’ve moved in the last two years, you might need to provide your former address as well. Also, when I ordered my reports, some of the credit bureaus asked for the amount of my monthly mortgage payment. The FTC says that the bureaus may ask for different personal information to ensure the security of your file.
If you’ve already picked up your free annual credit report, but need more services such as identity theft monitoring or credit report monitoring, or if you simply want to check out your credit score, then you can head over to the credit bureaus’ websites. Following is what one major credit bureau offers its customers.
What’s In Your Equifax Consumer Credit Report?
Equifax has several ways for you to acquire your credit report. Here’s a whole range of products they offer:
Your Equifax credit report will show you a chart that lists debts by type: Mortgage, Installment, Revolving & Other. For each listing, you’ll see a total number of accounts, balances, amounts available, credit limits, debt to credit ratio, monthly payment amount, and the number of accounts with a balance.
In addition, you can see items such as a Debt by Account Type chart, a debt to credit ratio chart, and a section on account age. This section covers details like the length of credit history, average account age, and the oldest and most recent accounts.
Another relevant section is the one for Potentially Negative Information. This will show the number of public records (say for bankruptcy), along with negative accounts, and collections.
Do visit the Equifax page for more information on what they have to offer. While their products are not free, they do provide a full range of products that help you keep your eye on your credit and identity information.
You’ll only need to check out these offerings if you need to get more information than what’s provided by your annual free credit reports (from AnnualFreeCreditReport.com). It may sound like overkill, but in certain situations, the additional information may be useful, such as when you’re in the market for a big purchase that will require a lot of financing.
Credit Report Information: It’s Personal
In general, here’s what you should expect from your consumer credit report: it should reveal a history of your credit life in the last seven to eleven years, from the first credit card you might have had in college to the student loans you might be hoping to pay off this year. Your credit report may also show your auto loans, your mortgage, retail credit cards, department store cards, and more.
You’ll see your accounts listed, the amounts you owe, the amounts of your payments, if the accounts are past due and their limit amounts.
Be sure to check the addresses and employers that are listed on your record as well. I’ve moved quite a bit over the decades, so I was on the lookout for addresses that weren’t familiar, in case of fraud. Also, examine your social security number and date of birth. Mistakes here can impact your future credit history.
If you have applied for credit recently, your credit report may show inquiries from credit card companies, banks, or other lenders. If you’ve allowed potential employers or landlords access to your credit report, then those inquiries may be listed here. Liens, bankruptcies, and any child support you owe may also be noted in your credit history.
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