You’ve probably read many personal finance tips recommending checking your credit report regularly to avoid surprises. Surely, you have also heard that you have at least one free annual credit report. But really How many times can the credit amount be checked per year?
Okay, let’s make an analogy. When caring for a sick child, their temperature is taken more often than when they are healthy. A thermometer is used to get a rough idea of the fever, rather than touching the forehead or neck. But, What if the patient is your credit? You can’t check your credit a few hours after administering the “medicine” to make sure it had the desired effect. So how do you know what’s prudent and what’s obsessive about checking your credit report?
How many times a year can I check my credit report?
Federal law gives consumers the right to obtain their free annual credit report from each of the major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion..
Therefore, it’s wise to review them no more than once a year, unless you have a specific reason to review them more often, like suspected identity theft, for example. It’s also wise to review each of these three credit reports carefully each year to monitor your creditworthiness and find a remedy for any errors or mistakes.
These credit reports include information about you and your payment history. This information is used to calculate your credit scores. The agencies do not share information with each other, and there may be variations between reports.
Therefore, it is convenient that you review each of them. If this is your first time, request reports from all three agencies at the same time. After that, some people choose to review all three reports at different intervals, one every four months, for example. If you find bugs, it’s important to dispute them.
How often should I check my credit scores?
Your credit scores are not the same as your credit reports. However, your credit reports include your credit scores. Scores are calculated using data from your credit reports, and each bureau will give you a slightly different score.
Credit scores help lenders decide whether to approve you for credit and at what interest rate. It’s a good idea to review your scores at least once a year.
If you’re worried about your score, you can work on improving it. Some monitoring services allow you unlimited access to credit information, so you can theoretically check it every day. But that is not necessary. Scores fluctuate frequently as information is updated, and just check once a month.
If you plan to apply for a car loan or mortgage, for example, you might want to review one of your scores about once a month. This way, you will be able to monitor your position more closely.
If you have a credit card, your provider may include your credit score on your monthly statement. If not, you can get your free credit score on some websites like credit.com.
What to check on the credit report?
When you monitor one of your credit scores, look for bigger modifications, not small daily changes. Lenders are well aware that scores change from day to day. Small differences make no sense to lenders. A small change can be significant only if your score is close to a credit score range and you can get better terms when the score jumps to the next level.
Reviewing one of your credit scores once a month will give you a clear view of your credit trends.. Always check the same credit score when comparing (there are many types of credit scores) and don’t worry about small fluctuations. Also, be sure to find out why your credit score changed if the change is significant.
Why check the credit report?
In addition to planning to get a car loan or mortgage, there are other reasons why you might want to check your credit score on a monthly basis, including:
- When you believe you may be a victim of identity theft or your personal information has recently been compromised in a data breach.
- If you have recently divorced.
- If you are looking for a new job; Employers sometimes review credit reports as part of the hiring process.
Even if none of the above reasons apply to you, It is recommended that you regularly check that your credit situation is healthy. If you’ve ever had to unexpectedly buy a new car, chances are you already know this. What’s more, sometimes the first sign of identity theft is a credit score that has changed with no obvious explanation.
While it’s not essential to check your credit every month, it can be helpful to keep an eye on your credit score every month.. Think of it as an early warning system that can reveal a problem before symptoms appear, i.e. at the stage when it is easiest to fix.
Free annual credit report How do I get it?
There are three easy ways to get your free credit reports from one source:
- Order them online at annualcreditreport.com
- Request them by calling the Annual Credit Report at 1-877-322-8228
- Mail a request for Annual Credit Report to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
You can request reports from all three bureaus at the same time, or you can request your report from each of the credit bureaus separately. For example, instead of getting all three at the same time, you can stagger them and get one from a different office every four months. This will give you the opportunity to monitor your credit throughout the year, instead of once a year.
Additional copies of free annual credit report
If you need additional copies of your credit reports, you can request them directly from the credit bureaus. They will charge you, but they cannot legally charge more than $12 for each additional credit report.
You can also get free additional credit reports if any of the following conditions apply:
- You have received a letter denying you credit or you have gone through another adverse situation. Remember that you must request it within 60 days of the denial letter.
- You’ve been the victim of fraud and fear there are inaccuracies in your credit reports.
- You are unemployed and intend to apply for a job within sixty days of your request for your credit reports.
- You live in a state that provides free credit reports, including Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont.
If you have any questions or want to know more about your credit reports and credit score, the website of the Federal Trade Commission along with the website Consumer Financial Protection Bureau They are two useful sources of information.
Free Annual Credit Report: In Brief
As a consumer, take advantage of your free annual credit reports. Check your free annual credit report at least once a year, and if necessary do it monthly. Use your free reports and scores to monitor your credit and improve itto keep you aware of any errors and ensure your financial health.