Check Your Credit Report
Now that you're a parent, you probably think your days of worrying about a report card are over. It's your kids' turn to bring home the good grades, right? Wrong! We adults have report cards, too—it's called a credit report. And it's a pretty big deal. A credit report can affect whether you can get a credit card, a mortgage or even a job!
Here's how to check your credit report:
- Get your credit report. It's FREE, ONLY at
AnnualCreditReport.com (and only once a year). I recommend checking your credit report twice a year, so to keep the process free, pull one report now and another report in six months (two reports are available for free). However, if you were turned down for a loan or credit card or a job, you'll want to see what all your lenders and interviewers are seeing, so bite the bullet and pay the fee to see all your reports.
- Look for discrepancies. See what your credit report says about you and what, if anything needs to be fixed, like errors or false charges. You want to make sure that all your addresses, employment history and credit card accounts are accurate.
- Report errors. If you see incorrect information on any of your credit reports you must:
1) Inform the reporting credit agency in writing within 60 days of getting a copy of your report. 2) Ask the credit agency to send a corrected report to anyone who has recently reviewed it. 3) Stay on top of it to make sure they comply. The Federal Trade Commission's website is another great place to go for advice on fixing your credit report.
- Find room for improvement. Pay down the balances you owe especially on credit cards and don't close any card you don't use—like fine wine, your credit report gets better with age, so you should keep even unused accounts open so they can build your credit history.
- Even the score. If your credit report reflects a lower than average performance on your part, go to Clearpoint Financial Solutions for help getting your credit back on track.
Your credit or FICO scores are powerful numbers (ranging from 300 to 850) that are based on your credit reports. These scores reflect your history of paying bills on time, how much credit you have, how much you owe, how well you manage debts, and how many lenders have been checking out your records. This all-important score can determine your whole life! Everyone from loan officers to potential employers can judge you by your financial history, so you might as well know what they're seeing.
- An awesome report is 740+
- A good report is 700+
- A decent report is 680 to 625
- A bad report is 620 and below
Your credit report is seen by way more people than you may have realized. Knowing how you measure up will help you make financial decisions you need to keep your credit and quality of life in good standing.
Get more financial advice from our personal finance expert, Carmen Wong Ulrich!