In a recent make-over of the family finances, my wife and I purged the number of lines of credit we had open. There were several store accounts and as well as major credit cards that we felt we no longer needed. It’s always a good idea to make sure that your credit report accurately reflects the accounts you actually have open. It’s also a good idea to be constantly monitoring your credit score as a sudden significant change in your score may indicate something may be going on you are not aware of, such as identity theft. You can enroll in a credit monitoring service for a monthly fee, but there are also ways to check both your credit report and credit score for free.
Free Credit Report
Federal law requires the three credit reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) to provide consumers with a free credit report if requested. AnnualCreditReport allows you to request a report from all three credit agencies at once, or from one at a time. There are advantages to either method. If you get all three at once, you can compare and ensure they match. If you get them one at a time, you can check a version of your credit report at three different times during the year. You can also request your free credit report directly from each of the credit reporting bureau’s website.
Free Credit Score and Credit Monitoring
Getting your credit score used to cost money, however today there are several ways to get your score for free. Many credit cards and banks make your credit score accessible to you for free. However, if you do not have a credit card that provides your score, there are several online services that provide your credit score for free. Two such services are CreditKarma and CreditJourney. CreditKarma will not only provide you access to your credit score, but also allows you to access data on your credit report for free at any time. Users can see balances, payment history, and credit inquiries allowing users to keep a close eye on their credit.
Another piece of information you may be interested in if you are trying to rent an apartment or applying for insurance is the LexisNexis report. The LexisNexis report contains personal information mainly gathered from public records as well as third party sources. You can get a copy of what information about you they have on file by sending in an application, a copy of a form of ID, and proof of residence. While it may be good to know what information is contained in your LexisNexis report, I personally would feel very uncomfortable mailing a copy of any form of ID.
A person’s credit report and credit score used to be mysterious information that banks uses freely, but a consumer would have to pay to see the information. Given the influence of this information to a person’s financial opportunities, and the ever present threat of identify theft, it’s great that there are ways for consumers to access this information for free.
How about you, Clever Friends, do you monitor your credit report? What service do you use?
Brought to you courtesy of Brock