Thanks to the many free credit report websites, obtaining and understanding your credit reports and scores is easier than ever before. Here’s why you should use these free reports, how to access them, and why they were created.
The importance of credit reports
It is important to check your credit report to make sure there are no errors in your credit history and to protect yourself against identity theft. The last thing you want is to be blindsided by additional credit cards on your report that you were not aware of that are damaging your credit.
If you do find any errors or unfamiliar activity on your credit report, it is vital to report it right away. You can report it to any or all of the three credit reporting agencies: Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian.
Free credit report websites
In 2004, the website Annual Credit Report was created by the nation’s three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – to comply with new government requirements for free and easy access for all. The site provides full credit reports every 12 months from all three credit bureaus for free.
The new website was a breakthrough for consumers to better access, manage and understand their credit reports without a cost. The website also centralized the process in which consumers can dispute errors in their reports and made more information available about credit management.
Since then, some companies have gone much further in the services they provide at no cost. Websites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame revolutionized the availability of tools consumers can use to take control of their credit report and score.
Credit Karma and Credit Sesame have services that include credit scores available any time all year for free. Credit Karma includes reports from TransUnion and Equifax, while Credit Sesame only utilizes information from TransUnion. Credit reports and score information is presented in reader-friendly sections and formats that include graphics, comparatives to national rankings in many different categories, tips for improving scores, credit scores simulators to predict a score based on your credit habits/needs and factors that impact your score, etc. Both Credit Karma and Credit Sesame now offer all these tools via mobile app to check your credit score from anywhere.
Why were free credit report websites created?
An amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act authorized in 2003 required agencies that collect and report consumer credit information to issue one free copy of a consumer credit report upon request every 12 months. The amendment was created to help consumers ensure their credit information is correct and to guard against identity theft.
Use the tools available to become a credit-planning pro
The online tools available today allow you to track the progress of improving or deteriorating credit scores every time they are updated (monthly) and access guidance and answers to the process and factors that alter your credit score. Be sure to use these resources and information regarding debt and credit utilization along with their several tools to calculate and compare credit products and collection of unclaimed property. Thankfully we live in a time when reliable resources to take control of our credit reports and scores are readily accessible and available to everyone. If you need additional guidance on checking your credit history, speak with your banker. They can guide you through it step by step during an office visit or over the phone.