What to look for on your credit report and why checking it regularly is essential
“Is there a payment that you really think was on time and was recorded as late? That could reduce an otherwise excellent score by 100 points or more.”
INDIANAPOLIS – The pandemic gives thieves new opportunities to steal people’s identities and mistakes happen.
A 2013 Federal Trade Commission study found that one in five people discovered an error on at least one of their credit reports. And mistakes can mean money. This is why it is essential to regularly check your credit report with each of the three credit bureaus.
Here is how you can find mistakes and correct them to increase your credit score.
How to request your reports:
To get your reports, go to www.annualcreditreport.com. This site is licensed under federal law. Right now, you can get all three of your reports every week for free due to the ongoing pandemic. Normally this is once a year. The new deadline for free weekly credit reports is April 20, 2022.
Click on “request free credit reports”, fill in your personal information and check off that you want your report from the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
Copies are available digitally or by mail. Credit scores are not included.
What to look for:
First, make sure the basic information like your name and address is correct.
Then go to the accounts. Review each line of the credit opened and closed date.
Also check for late payments that might be wrong. Tedd Rossman of CreditCards.com said late payments are the number one factor in your FICO score, and they really drive it down.
“Is there a payout that you really believe is on time that is recorded as late? It could reduce an otherwise excellent score by 100 points or more,” said Rossman.
Finally, look at serious requests or what TransUnion calls “regular requests”. Rossman said they were more important than indirect or promotional inquiries.
“You go to one of these credit scoring sites, you get your score, that’s a soft question. Serious applications are more than a formal application for credit. Loans, credit cards, lines of credit,” he said. Rossman said.
If you run into any issues, Rossman said to contact the office and the lender directly.
“This is a time when a kind of two-pronged approach can help. [For example] If you have a dispute over your credit card, you will want to try to resolve it with the merchant. But you might also want to file a dispute with the card company. “
Identity theft prevention:
If you don’t plan on opening a line of credit, consider freezing your account. This prevents the bureaus from giving your report to new creditors.
To do this, contact each office individually.