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The Benefits Of Checking Your Credit Report

May 17, 2008
Having a good credit rating has become incredibly important in the modern world. With a high credit score, you can apply for loans with better interest rates, premium credit cards, and low-interest mortgages. To check your credit history, you simply need to request a credit report from one of the three major credit bureaus.

The concept of credit and credit reports is quite complex, and several factors go into your credit report. This includes outstanding loans, paid loans, credit card accounts, and even your medical history. Companies that prepare credit reports and track consumer credit history are called Consumer Reporting Agencies, or credit bureaus. These bureaus sell credit reports to businesses and lenders, and they also provide them to consumers themselves. You can check your credit report free once a year from the major credit bureaus; Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian. If you utilize each bureau, that means you can request up to three free reports a year. Once you go beyond three, or want to use a credit bureau twice, there is a fee (usually only about nine dollars).

The benefits of reading your credit report are numerous and should be taken advantage of by everyone. On the report, you can see nearly everything about your financial activities. The report lists your bank accounts, accounts with various companies, credit cards, lender accounts, and the names of people who obtained your report in the past year.

Why should you check your credit report? For one, it is good to know where you stand before you try to get a mortgage, new car, or other large purchase. A more important reason to check is to find errors. Keep in mind, this report determines whether or not you can get a house, so it is critical that you know all about it. Humans prepare credit reports, and what inherent quality do people have, human error. Therefore, it is quite likely that a part of the report could be fallacious. It is up to you to correct any mistakes, so make sure to order your report at least three times a year. To correct any mistake, simply call the Consumer Reporting Agency and notify them of the error.

Identity theft has become a major problem lately. Although most people do not think it will happen to them, it most certainly can. By occasionally checking your credit report, you can easily find anything suspicious, and then immediately take appropriate action to rectify the situation. Otherwise, you may not find out for months that you have been a victim, and by that time, you already have a pile of debts to deal with. If you discover you have been a victim of identity theft, you can freeze your reports with all of the major credit bureaus, which protects you from any further damage.

Credit score is the single most important piece of information on the credit report. That one number affects nearly your whole financial life. The way credit bureaus arrive at that number is relatively straightforward. They factor in your payment history, outstanding debt, types of credit you have, the length of time you have had credit, and more. Although each credit bureau has their own specific system, the number usually ranges between 300 and 900.

To improve your credit score, there are many measures you can take. The most important is to pay your bills on time. If you do this one thing, over time, eventually you will achieve a high score. You can also reduce your balances on credit cards and spread your debt around to several different cards. As long as you stick to a solid financial plan, your credit score is guaranteed to consistently rise.
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