Worried about your finances in this new way of life? Welcome to the worry club. But wait! Did you hear that Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — the three major credit reporting agencies are generously providing one free credit report every week until April 2021?
That's huge for people worried about the economy and their finances in these unstable economic times. Currently, people are entitled to one free credit report yearly and keeping a watchful eye on your credit report helps to eliminate any unnecessary damage to your credit.
How Does It Work?
Your credit report consists of information that scoring businesses use to determine your FICO and VantageScore, which are used to create credit scores. The report provides more detail than just your number. It is used to evaluate trustworthiness by lenders, landlords and financial institutions.
You can get a copy of your credit report by mail or fill out the form online or call 877-322-8228. We've added some tips below to make it easier for you to navigate through the phone system if you're using the call option. Here are some helpful tips:
- To Verify Your Identity:
- Each Report Is Different:
- No Need to Subscribe:
- Save Some Paper:
You may be asked questions about your income, name, birthday, address, and your social security number. It may be a good idea to have your bank and credit card info handy.
Each report may look different due to different interfaces and different companies.
Since you can get your credit scores from many personal finance websites for free, you don't have to feel pressured into subscribing. Some banks and credit card issuers can also tell you your credit score and you still have access to your report.
Look for a download option or save as a PDF, otherwise, you will use lots of paper to print out your entire report.
Understanding Your Credit Report
Vantage Scores are in a range of 300 to 850, which is the same range as a typical FICO. The higher your score, the better your credit. It is important to read through your reports to be sure that there is nothing there that you don't recognize. Here's what to look for:
- Accounts with payment modifications:
- Fraud and/or identity theft:
- Errors that could lower your score:
Make sure that all accommodations are being reported as agreed. If your account was in good standing going into the agreement and you are holding up your end, your account should still be reported as "current."
Look for unfamiliar accounts and errors in your current and previous addresses that you don't recognize.
Look for late accounts and incorrect account balances.
What If You Notice an Inconsistency?
The great thing is that with getting your credit report every week you can catch and mistakes and activities fairly quickly and you can move forward with disputing it.
You can file a dispute with either of the three credit reporting agencies, and they normally have it completed within 30 days, although that time has been extended to 45 days if you file a dispute after receiving your free annual credit report.
If you do happen to see an error in any of your reports, you can file a dispute with the agencies where the error shows up and you can report signs of identity theft here. You should also think about putting a freeze or fraud alert on your credit account.