How to Check Your Credit Report and Credit Score

Consumers who are looking to stay informed about their financial status are encouraged to perform a credit report check.

Many companies provide free credit reports, while other providers may perform the service for a small fee. Federal regulations dictate that certain companies offer consumers free credit reports every year. These credit reports can be requested from authorized companies by phone, mail and online depending on the company. According to federal regulations, consumers are eligible to request three free credit reports each year from different companies or all from one company. Consumers are required to pay additional fees for each report after the first three.

If you are looking to get a quick overview and evaluation of your financial history, you can request your credit score from a number of different companies. Depending on which company you request from, your credit score may vary. This is because some companies have incomplete reporting while others report different aspects of credit history. Generally, consumers who want the most accurate credit score should request their FICO score. In some cases, certain organizations and companies will offer free credit scores whereas others will request a payment. Banks and credit card providers can also provide you with a credit score check if you desire one.

A Few Common Methods to Access Your Credit Report

You have the option to request a credit report check from a variety of different agencies, but there are three accredited credit reporting agencies that work specifically with the U.S. government. Citizens of the United States can access a free credit report once per year through any (or all) of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. A good way to get a comprehensive overview of your credit history is to request a credit report from each of the agencies. This way, you can compare and contrast the various reports to get the most accurate view of your credit history. You are recommended to perform a credit report check once every year to keep track of any changes to your score.

Consumers can access each of the three accredited credit reporting agencies online, over the phone or by mail. On the application for a credit report check, consumers will need to provide essential identifying information such as their:

  • Name.
  • Date of birth.
  • Address.
  • Social Security Number.
  • In some cases, more specific information can be requested such as:
  • The amount of money a consumer is paying for car insurance.
  • The date when a consumer took out a home loan or auto loan.

The additional identifying information can differ between each applicant and each credit reporting agency, but they are required to verify the information in order to prevent identity theft. You are the only person who is allowed to request your own credit history check unless you give permission to your creditors, employers or insurers.

Consumers also have the option to request a credit report check from third-party providers. Certain third-party providers can help you view your credit score while also providing additional information such as some credit cards you may be eligible for, tips for improving your credit and more. However, before selecting a third-party provider, consumers should check to verify that they are a legitimate organization.

It is imperative to check out third-party providers before you give them any sensitive information like your Social Security Number. In order to verify a third-party source, you can check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they are a respectable business. You can always check out a company’s reputation by checking reviews of their services online. After verifying that a business is safe and legitimate, you can request a credit history report from them.

Why is it important to check your credit score often?

It is vital that consumers perform a credit score check at least once per year because staying up-to-date with their credit report can help them stay in a positive financial standing. Consumers all across the country use their credit in order to make significant purchases like property and automobiles. This makes it incredibly important to earn a good credit score and work to maintain it by making payments on time. Unfortunately, a poor credit score can prevent consumers from having access to the loans and lines of credit they need to make these purchases.

If you are looking to make these types of purchases in your life, it is essential that you familiarize yourself with your credit history before you attempt to open a loan. Requesting your credit report can give you specific details about your personal credit history which can help you stay on top of your finances. You will be able to see any previous loans you have taken out, including those that have outstanding payments and those that are closed. By viewing your credit history, you can check to ensure that there are not any mistakes or fraudulent issues with your credit. Errors in a credit history and fraudulent claims can cause your credit score to be negatively impacted.

Credit Report Denials

In some circumstances, your request for a free credit report may be denied by a credit reporting agency. If this occurs, you should contact the reporting agency to find out why your request was rejected so that you can begin to resolve the issue. By calling the agency, they can also inform you on what steps you should take next. In many cases, requests for a free credit report are denied because there is missing or incorrect information on the application. Situations like this can be easily fixed by contacting a credit reporting agency directly.

After you have provided the agency with the correct information, the issue should be resolved and you will be able to access your free credit history report. However, if your request is denied again you are recommended to contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Typically in these cases, credit report requests are denied due to fraudulent activity. By calling the CFPB you can work to resolve these issues.