What's on your credit report?
In the past, all you needed was a handshake to close a deal. But in today's economy, your name is only as good as your credit rating -- so a good credit report is a necessity, not a luxury.
Who checks your credit?
Credit scores affect whether or not you can get credit -- as well as the rate you will pay for credit cards, car loans, mortgages and other kinds of credit.
But your credit rating isn't important only if you want to borrow money. Your credit score might be checked in other situations, too. In fact, for everything from renting an apartment to being hired for certain jobs to how much you have to pay as a deposit on your electrical service and for your car insurance, your credit score may play a role!
How to get a copy of your credit report
To make sure you regularly know where your credit score stands, once a year, you are entitled to a free credit report (in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act), which you can obtain via AnnualCreditReport.com.
Be wary of imitators, who will likely charge a fee for the service or require you sign up for a long-term credit reporting contract.
Furthermore, if you have been denied credit within the past 60 days because of information provided by one of the credit bureaus, that agency will provide you with a free copy of your credit score. You are also entitled to a free credit report if you're unemployed.
You can order your credit report online, by phone or via US mail. To get more information or to order, contact the three major credit bureaus:
Information you need
The fastest and simplest way to get your credit report is via the web -- usually your credit score and report data will be available immediately. But no matter how you request your credit report, you will need the following information:
- First, middle, and last name (including Jr, Sr, III)
- Current address
- Previous addresses (for the past two years)
- Social Security Number
- Date of birth
- Phone number and/or email address