Why Should I Get My Credit Report?
Regularly monitoring of your credit report is not only vital for maintaining good credit or improving your score, but for getting many of the things you want in life
Doing a credit check helps you keep track of your fiscal progress. Your annual credit report gives you a comprehensive picture of your financial activity, helping you to understand the factors that make up your credit score. When you get your credit report, you’ll have an at-your-fingertips accounting of your financial obligations such as loans, revolving credit, and other accounts. You’ll also be able to see the positive factors that make up your credit score, such as a strong and consistent payment history, low debt-to-available-credit ratio, and a diverse mix of credit types. You’ll also be able to evaluate the negative factors that work against your credit report. These include late or missed payments, defaulted loans or other accounts, judgments, bankruptcies, or evictions. Since your financial history follows you throughout your life, it’s essential to understand how it’s developed over time. Your credit history lets you understand the good decisions you’ve made, as well as the poor ones that may have led to tarnished credit. When you do a regular credit check, you’re educating yourself with regard to better habits in the future.
Credit reports aren’t perfect. People and companies make mistakes – and these errors could well be reflected in your credit history. When you get your credit report, you’ll be able to review your report for any mistakes. These could be as small as a misspelling of your name, an incorrect address, or an employer you’ve never had. However, these errors could also be far greater – and more damaging. Credit reports can contain mistakes such as information that is not correct, complete, or up-to-date, or that indicate outright identity theft. Identity theft may be indicated by the presence of bogus accounts on your credit report, as well as other unauthorized financial activity under your name. Catching and preventing identity theft, along with the opportunity to spot and dispute any other errors in your credit report, is a major reason to obtain your credit report.
Your credit report is consulted by lenders, credit issuers, landlords, and potential employers, all of whom consider your credit score a reliable indicator of whether you have been financially responsible in the past and are therefore a good risk. Becoming an informed consumer means doing a regular credit check so that you can see what all these other people are seeing. If you’re preparing to apply for a mortgage, auto, or other loan, get a credit card, rent an apartment, or compete for a new job, it’s valuable to check your credit report beforehand so that you can fully understand your financial picture. Even if you’re not seeking to meet these goals, it’s still important to get your annual credit report so that you understand how credit can affect you and your household. Sometimes emergencies come up and you need to get credit straight away – it’s best to know where you stand before that occurs.
Checking your credit helps you figure out what accounts to keep and which ones you close. Once you get your free credit score, you can do the calculations to decide which accounts are helping – and which are hurting.
Doing a credit check may be particularly helpful before making a major life change such as getting married. When you get married, elements of your credit history can mingle with those of your spouse – it’s important for both of you to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly of each other’s financial histories before you say “I do.”
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What are the Credit Bureaus? How Can I Obtain My Report From Them?
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), each of the major nationwide credit reporting bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – must provide consumers with a free copy of their credit reports every 12 months.
These three bureaus collect and disseminate consumer credit information that is then used to compile your credit report. Also known as consumer reporting agencies, these bureaus have databases containing consumer credit reports, which are meant to evaluate an individual or corporation’s creditworthiness. Credit bureaus collect financial data, personal information, and alternative data such as payment histories from utility firms, telecommunications companies, rental payments, and electronic payments.
Credit bureaus receive their information from data furnishers such as lenders, creditors, debt-collection agencies, utility companies, and courts providing public records. These data furnishers report their payment experience with a consumer to the bureaus, who in turn aggregate this information and report it on the consumers’ credit reports.
As part of the FCRA, the three bureaus have set up a central website that allows consumers to order their annual credit reports. That site, www.annualcreditreport.com, lets consumers order all three reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at the same time, or to order each report individually over time.
In order to receive your credit report, you must provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth, as well as a previous address if you have moved within the past two years. You may also be asked for specific information that only you may know, such as the names of lenders with whom you have opened accounts. This is to ensure the security of your credit report.
If you order your credit report online, you should be able to access it immediately. However, if you order it through the mailing address or telephone number on the website, it may take up to 15 days to be processed and mailed to you. On occasions where there are higher demands for credit reports, this process may take longer.
Federal law also mandates that a consumer is entitled to a free report if a company has denied an application for insurance, credit, or employment. The consumer must request his or her report within 60 days upon receiving notice of the denial.
Credit Nexus can simplify the process by offering you our 3-in-1 credit report, which gives you instant and comprehensive access to reports from all three major consumer credit reporting bureaus. We also offer services vital to maintaining, improving, and protecting your credit score from identity thieves and reporting errors.
Our credit report puts the power in your hands – you can see your credit history in full and evaluate all the factors that make it up, whether they are positive or negative. We’ll help you take the control into your hands.
How Do I Protect My Credit Report from Criminal Activity?
Unfortunately, identity thieves are becoming more and more sophisticated at hijacking consumers’ financial lives for their own gains. Identity theft is a crime in which a person illegally obtains and uses a consumer’s personal data in a fraudulent or deceptive way, typically to their own financial advantage.
Data such as your Social Security number, bank account information, or telephone calling-card information is extremely personal and valuable – and provides a means for identity thieves to access your credit. Using your financial history, they perpetrate any number of financial crimes that can leave them blameless while rendering your credit ruined.
Criminals can access personal data in all types of invasive ways. Here are a few examples of identity theft:
You’re talking on your cell phone in a public place such as a hotel lobby or restaurant. While reserving a rental car, you give your credit-card number to the reservation agent over the phone. What you don’t know is that an identity thief is paying rapt attention – and writing down every detail. By the time you arrive to pick up your rental car, your credit card has been denied. Confused and frustrated, you call your credit-card company, only to discover that the card has been used and maxed out. The identity thief hijacked your card and used it for his or her own purchases.
You discard canceled checks, credit card and bank statements without shredding them to protect sensitive information. An identity thief engages in “dumpster diving” – going through your trash to collect your data.
You receive an email that requests you to “reset your data” with your bank, or perhaps even a bank that isn’t your own. You’re confused, but you comply with the request, entering sensitive banking information as well as your Social Security number. You press send – and the identity theft has just obtained personal data through a simple email message.
Any of these activities can devastate your credit. Fortunately, buying credit protection or a monitoring system for your credit can prevent this. Here’s why:
According to the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 10 million Americans are victims of identity theft per year, with an average loss of $5,000 per victim. The FTC adds that it takes the average victim of identity theft 12 months to notice that the crime has occurred. By that time, the damage has already been done, and cleanup can take years. A credit-monitoring system will notify you of changes in your credit on a daily or weekly basis, alerting you well in advance that your data may have been compromised.
Credit protection and monitoring systems cost extremely little compared to the damage identity thieves can do to your credit score. Enrollment in these systems has absolutely no adverse affect on your credit and can, in fact, save your financial life.
Credit protection and monitoring systems do the work for you. Once you enroll, there’s no need to continually review your credit – you’ll be notified of any changes to your credit report. This takes yet another task off your to-do list.
If you’re preparing for a major purchase, thinking about applying for a credit card, or hoping to obtain the apartment or job of your dreams, you’ll want to keep extremely close watch on your credit. A credit-protection or monitoring system can help you do this with a minimum of effort.
By protecting your credit, you’re not only acting on your own behalf, but protecting your family as well. Loved ones also suffer when your credit is hijacked – monitoring your credit report can help provide a stable base for your entire household.
Getting a monitoring system for your credit is simple. First, it’s important to research your options to find one that best fits with your individual needs. Once you’ve found the right program for you, you’ll fill out an online application and provide personal information such as your name, phone number, Social Security number, and address. You’ll then create a username and password to access your reports. Finally, you’ll be asked to verify your identity for security purposes. To prove your identity, you’ll typically need to provide a credit-card number along with answering specific security questions.
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What Is A Good Credit Score?
Your credit score is a numerical representation of the credit risk that you pose to lenders, credit-card issuers, and other companies or individuals. Credit scores typically range between 300 and 850, with 300 the lowest and 850 the best. Any score above 700 is considered good – and, of course, the closer to 850 the better. Average scores range from 620 to 700, with scores of less than 620 considered poor. The better your score, the better your chances of being offered a loan or credit card with competitive interest rates and favorable terms. In addition, you’ll be more likely to get the apartment or job you want, since landlords and employers will consider you a better choice. Whether you’re happy with your credit score or would like to improve it, regular monitoring of your credit history is essential. We’ll provide you a credit report as well as a credit score to make sure you can easily keep control of your financial life.