Get your free Annual Credit Report form the US Government
Since September 1st 2005 the federal government has mandated that all consumers nationwide are able to access their credit report once each year without cost. This is a central part of the approved supplier agreement established with three US credit bureaus, and is a right.
To facilitate this provision, the US government established a secure website which can be accessed here, that helps you see what's on your credit report right now from each of the three reference agencies. There are two reasons for you to do this:
- Identify and protect yourself from long-term identity theft
- Understand your credit report & credit score, and how this information is used to understand the risk you represent to lenders
Should you sign up?
Yes, without a doubt. The annual credit report is a government approved and supplied service, that is invaluable and absolutely free. Why wouldn't you!
Will it solve all of your problems?
No, but it is still very much worth it. If you don't currently know what state your credit report is in, then it's going to seriously help you to understand this. The equation is simple: If you have a poor credit history (or no credit history) then you will either (a) not get approved for credit, or (b) be charged higher rates of interest. Often simple problems on your credit report cause very large problems for you that you put up with for years, but there is no need to go on like this. Your annual credit report is a great starting point, but if there is anything untoward, erroneous, or sinister on there- then you may want to consider signing up to a premium credit monitoring service or ID Theft Protection service from one of the 3 credit bureaus direct.
Why should you sign up to a premium service?
There are lots of reasons for the biggest ones in our humble opinion are:
- Ongoing Access & Alerts - Get unlimited acces to your credit report, credit score and regular change alerts. This all makes ID Theft instantly recognisable, but also allows you monitor improvements as you start to clean up your credit report instantly
- Direct Access to the Credit Bureaus - You can raise disputes for incorrect information directly as part of your online access, meaning that you get things sorted quicker and have easily trackable communication
- Family Protection - Many products, especially Equifax Identity Theft Protection, have family inclusion available which protects 2 adults and up to 3 children from ID theft. Children make great targets, as they don't (obviously can't) apply for credit, and so have little chance of recognise potential problems when they are denied loans. Ten years can easily go by before anything is discovered. Get onto it.
In addition to these benefits, there are many others and differences between product and provider as well. All however are variations on the basic theme- if you know whats going on, you can protect yourself, and get on top of your credit situation right now. Both can and should save you money.
The Credit Geeks are here to help you understand your credit report, how to improve it and what to do if you do find yourself with a poor credit rating. You can also find out more about the various credit report products available, and out tips for which ones to sign up for and what to do once you have. If you cant find the information you are after, feel free to get in touch and we'll either answer directly or post an article covering your areas of concern (and refer you to it)- your question may help many people that way. The crucial thing to realise is that there is no shame to an imperfect credit report or score. Nobody has a perfect one, but do things right and you can build yours up to reflect you as accurately as possible to all lenders.
All the best!