How to Monitor Your Credit Report and Credit Score

Although there seems to be much greater awareness now of the importance of checking our credit reports periodically, many people still aren’t sure about exactly how to monitor their credit. Doing so will allow you to correct errors in credit scores and in credit reporting before they completely go rogue. It will also alert you to potential problems, such as identity theft, early enough for you to do something constructive about it.

When you request a credit report from one of the many credit reporting agencies, there are certain things that they have to provide you with and some things that they don’t. One of the things that they have to provide, by law, is a record of all credit inquiries that have been made about you in the last six months. This helps you to keep tabs on who is requesting personal financial information about you.

In addition, they must give you the name of all the individuals or companies who have paid for a copy of your credit report. If the report was requested for job-related reasons, they have to tell you the names of anyone who has requested it in the last two years. If the reports were requested for other reasons, they are only required to provide the names of those who have requested it within the past year.

Be Vigilant about Who Has Requested a Copy of Your Credit Report

Even though most consumers who order a copy of their credit report don’t pay attention to who has purchased or asked to look at a copy of their credit report, this is something that you really do need to know. You should be very suspicious of any unfamiliar names requesting your personal financial information.

One thing that nearly everyone who requests a copy of their credit report is interested in is their credit scores. Unfortunately, your credit score or your credit risk rating is not something that these agencies are required to give to you. You may think that this information belongs to you, but in reality, these figures are their internal evaluation as to your credit worthiness. In addition, it is the primary way in which they make their money. They sell this information to lenders and creditors who use it as a basis for determining how big of a credit risk you are.

You May Need to Pay to Get Your Credit Score

Now, even though they are not required to do so by law, some of these credit agencies will provide you with your credit scores for free while others will do it for a fee. And some will not provide it to you at all. The key point is that whether they release it to you or not is entirely up to their discretion.

If you have never even seen your credit statement for the past couple of months, take the time to do so now. You may have unforeseen errors that you are mostly innocent of. Such credit report blunders could potentially ruin your credibility as a borrower and may set you up for many upcoming financial frustrations. It can also prevent you from acquiring the best deals and rates on a range of services available.

Most Credit Reports Have Errors

While you might think that this kind of situation may never happen to you, think again. It is indeed a common occurrence, and it has been estimated in recent studies that most credit reports have errors in them. These errors include minor boo-boos such as misspelled names, numbers, and addresses. But then there are some more majorly serious ones, such as mistaken accounts, identity thefts, and erroneous reports. Fortunately, you can rectify such blunders, but you have to do some paperwork and research on your part.

In correcting errors on your credit report, it is best to identify them. The initial step to disputing credit report blunders is to find and search for them. You are actually entitled to obtain a free copy of your credit report legally. You can inquire three major credit bureaus such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion once a year. This way, you will know if there are any mistakes that might emerge on your precious credit statement at least periodically. These credit bureaus provide legitimate free credit report copies and may charge you for their credit-monitoring services or for obtaining the report itself.

Notify Your Credit Agency of Errors

Never hesitate to notify the aforementioned credit bureaus or agencies if you have discovered mistakes in your credit account. You can actually scribble a written request for a reinvestigation. Upon submission, be sure to include your background information such as your name, address, and contact details. Jot down statements and furnish them with copies of billing statements and checks to support your claim. A well-written explanation of your dispute goes a long way.

The chosen agency that you have written to will investigate your dispute and will notify you immediately of its decision within 30 days upon the receipt of your request. Once the agency settles the matter in your favor, they will correct the report and provide your own revised credit history copy.

Sometimes, depending on your situation and the nature of the dispute, credit agencies might decide against your request. So it is a good idea to send them sufficient evidence about your claims and inform them if you have any sort of miscommunication with your lender. However, do not be downtrodden as credit agencies allow you to make brief statements explaining your dispute to convince them of your creditworthiness.

Problems regarding errors in your credit report should be taken care of immediately. Once the credit bureau has given you the updated version, review it properly to make sure that every detail and figure in your credit report is up-to-date, complete, and accurate.