Don’t believe what you hear on television – even with the catchy “Free Credit Report dot-com” jingle. That’s the last place you wanna visit for a credit report, Ponzi says. She’s the master (mistress?) of credit reports, so she oughta know. Instead, she suggests going to Annual Credit Report – which is the really, truly free service:
AnnualCreditReport.com processes requests for free credit file disclosures (commonly called credit reports). Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) consumers can request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. AnnualCreditReport.com provides consumers with the secure means to do so.
Okay, that works for me. I thought the “Free” in “Free Credit Report dot-com” was really free – but it’s not, according to her. Hey, if the Annual Credit Report site does the trick with no hidden gotchas – I’m all for it. According to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, I have a credit score of bleen!
Seriously, this is an important subject – considering how many of us use credit on a regular (if not daily) basis. You need a good credit score if you intend on getting some of the larger things in life – like a car, a house, or a pimped-out PC. Oh, hey – she’s looking over my shoulder right now and reminding me to remind you about three things you should do when working with Credit Reports:
- There are three credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), and you can get one free report from each, per year. Only pull from one bureau every three months – and you can check up on your account regularly without having to pay for the yearly fee most agencies want to charge to “watch” your accounts.
- Your FICO score won’t be included on these reports, and since that’s how lenders view you – you should go ahead and spring for that. Or, if you have applied for a loan (from any lender) and they pulled your credit report, you can request the score for free. There are three scores, and most lenders usually take the middle score. Ask your agent what each of them are for your own records. Since that’s basically how you’re “graded,” you should know what it is and how to increase it (or keep it as it is).
- If something shows up on your report and you don’t know what it is, dispute it. You can do that online or through the mail. Be advised to do it in writing – nothing gets done on the phone, and you don’t have recourse other than your recorded notes, times, and dates. “In writing” is mandatory if you want to get it done quickly and make sure it’s followed up on by the agency. What ever you dispute with one agency, go ahead and submit the same email (or letter) to all three. That way, you don’t end up doing the same letter/email three times. After 2 or 3 months, follow up with the agency and make sure it’s off your record or paid.
Thanks, Ponzi! Remember, she used to do funding for mortage loans (need one?)…