Credit Report

Most people aren't aware of what is actually in their credit report. Some people will willingly admit that they are totally unsure of what a credit report even looks like because they have never checked. Although the majority of consumers have seen it at least once or twice, it's important for everyone to be informed and learn about how this report can affect your financial life. It's also helpful to know what is in this report so that you can keep your credit in good shape.

Key tips for understanding your credit report:

  • Inaccurate information can be disputed, but must be done in writing or through the online form offered by each credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) directly.
  • Even after you pay off bad debts or rectify your credit problems, the accounts can remain on your report and affect your score for up to 7 years or more, depending on the state you live in and their statute of limitations.
  • You are entitled to a free annual credit report from This will give you a copy from each credit bureau. If you need a report more frequently, you will have to find a paying service to order from.
  • It's far easier to start your credit report out properly and stick to financial health than it is to repair things and get back on track in the future.

Advice on checking your credit report:

Who needs a credit report? Aside from getting your free annual copy just to verify information, check for inaccuracies, and make sure your identity is safe, there are specific occasions when a report might come in handy. If you are getting a loan, looking to improve your credit, or trying to apply for a credit card, having a copy of your credit report can tell you what kind of shape you are in and what your odds are of getting approved.

If you've already gotten your free reports and you need to order another, you should look for a reputable, professional credit monitoring service that provides reports to consumers. Make sure that their prices are reasonable, look for free trials when you can, and check the terms and conditions of signup and cancellation before you join to ensure that you aren't going to get taken for a ride. It can be helpful to get a copy of your credit report, but you have to know where to get it from with the least amount of hassle.

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