Staying in the know about your finances can be quite a task. Fortunately, you have access to your own personal credit report free of charge. Read on to learn the basics about credit reports.
What is a Credit Bureau?
A credit bureau is a consumer reporting agency (CRA) who collects all types of facts about how you handle your money. A credit bureau keeps track of when you applied for loans, how much you applied for and received, and how well you do at paying your bills on time.
Also, a credit bureau knows whether you’ve ever left a credit account unpaid and how much you owe to each of your creditors.
Credit bureaus sell your credit information to all kinds of entities for a variety of reasons. Some companies who buy your credit history will try to send you credit card applications. Some will see you’re not a good credit risk and avoid doing business with you.
What is a Credit Report?
Your credit report is a document that consists of all the information that a credit bureau compiles about your financial and bill-paying habits over time. Your credit report includes:
- Your address and where you’ve previously lived
- The creditors you currently owe: loans, charge cards, and more
- Past credit accounts
- How many times and with whom you applied for a loan
- Whether you pay your bills on time
- If you’ve filed for bankruptcy or had tax liens in the last 10 years
- Other facts about your financial and credit life
How Can You Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report?
It’s not difficult to get your credit report. You can go online or simply call the 800 numbers and request a copy of your report. You’re allowed one credit report per year free of charge from each of the following credit bureaus:
- Equifax. The address is, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241. Their phone number is: (888) 766-0008.
- Experian. The address is, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013. The phone number is: (888) 397 3742.
- Trans Union. The address is, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022. The phone number is: (800) 916-8800.
It’s not unusual to receive different information from each credit bureau. Banking institutions sometimes utilize just one of the credit bureaus. Therefore, any information they have about your loan habits might only be sent to one credit bureau.
Why Should You Obtain a Copy of Your Credit Report?
If you want to stay informed about how you’re doing financially in terms of managing loans, payments, and the like, you’ll want to get a copy of your report at least yearly. Many companies now look at your credit report before doing business with you, including potential employers, cell phone companies, and insurance providers.
The information in your credit report also determines if you can get a loan and how much interest the creditor will charge on your loan. The better your credit history, the better loan terms you can receive. Your credit report can save you, or cost you, many thousands of dollars on large loans like mortgage loans.
In the event your personal identification, credit cards, or checking account has been compromised, it’s wise to follow your credit report very closely.
In addition, credit reports often have mistakes that can cost you money or even a chance at a lucrative new job. So it’s important to keep track of the information listed in your report and if it reflects you accurately. You can have mistakes eliminated or corrected.
In order to stay on top of your financial life, it’s important to be familiar with credit reports. Understanding what credit bureaus do, knowing what a credit report is, understanding how to get a copy of your credit report, and knowing when and why to obtain such a report is important for having a successful financial life.
Keep abreast of your money situation by understanding all about credit reports. You’ll be a competent family leader and a savvy money manager if you do!