Your credit report is one of those things you may not think to check very often. After all, if you’re not about to apply for a big loan or a new credit card, what’s the point?
But actually, it’s important to check your credit report not just from a potential borrowing perspective. Reviewing your credit report could also alert you to fraud so you know to take action.
These days, you’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major reporting bureaus on a weekly basis from AnnualCreditReport.com. Initially, weekly credit reports were made available as a pandemic-era benefit, but that change has since become permanent.
For most people, checking a credit report weekly isn’t necessarily. But it’s a good idea to do so once a quarter or so.
I usually make a point to check my credit report at the end of the year to do a thorough review. And that’s one thing I made time for in December.
Thankfully, the process didn’t take long at all. And it left me feeling more secure about my financial situation.
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A 30-minute investment
Requesting free copies of my credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, the three major reporting bureaus, took only a few minutes. It then took me a little more time to review each report and compare it to the other two.
But all told, I’d say I spent about 30 minutes doing my year-end credit report review. And while that’s time I could’ve spent working, cleaning my house, or baking for the holidays, it was worth making the effort to read those reports.
Your credit report is basically a snapshot of your borrowing history. Ironically enough, you won’t see your actual credit score listed on your credit report. To get that number, you’ll usually have to log into a bank or credit card account that offers a free credit score service.
But your credit report should list your open loans and credit card accounts as well as your various balances. It should also show whether you’re current on your accounts and how much credit you’re using.
This is all important information for a few reasons. First, it’s good to see what your debts look like and how current you’ve been on them. But also, it’s helpful to see a list of your open accounts so you can make certain you recognize all of them.
Sometimes, what’ll happen is that a criminal will get a hold of your personal financial data and use it to open a loan or credit card in your name. That’s the sort of thing you’ll see on your credit report, and from there, you’ll know to report that fraud.
Time well spent
I won’t pretend that reviewing my credit reports was the most fun thing I did in late December. But I’m also happy I did that deep dive, because in a short amount of time, I was able to walk away with peace of mind knowing that my open accounts all matched up across my three reports and that I didn’t spot any suspicious activity requiring me to follow up.
If you can’t remember the last time you reviewed your credit reports, access your free copies and give them a read. Spending a few minutes doing so every few months could spare you a world of financial upheaval in the event that you’ve been the victim of fraud. And either way, it’s always good to keep tabs on your open credit accounts.
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