What to Look for When Monitoring Credit Reports

A number of people will review your credit report during your lifetime. Obviously, any time you apply for a loan, the lending institution will check your credit report. But it also gets reviewed when you try to rent an apartment, apply for a new job or a student loan for college. With all of these people looking at your credit report, you need monitor it closely yourself to make sure that it is accurate. Here are some of the items you need to check on a regular basis on monitoring credit reports.

Getting Access to Your Credit Report

You need to review your credit report at least every six months. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as going on line and reviewing it. Creditors use private companies to keep your credit report current. Legally, you have access to a free copy of your credit report twice a year from one of these companies. Search online for “Free Credit Report” for the names of the companies with which you have to work.

You also have access to your credit report if someone has reviewed it. For example, if you applied for a department store credit card and were denied, you can request a copy of the report so you can see what the business was seeing. If you want to see your report more often than twice a year, you can pay for a copy. This may be a good idea if you are getting ready to apply for a large loan, such as a home mortgage.

What to Look For on Your Credit Report

When you’re ready to get serious about “monitoring my credit”, there are several items to look for on the report. People and companies do make mistakes when updating credit reports. Only the places that originated the note can change it, so they are who you need to contact to make the change. For example, if you closed a bank account but it still shows as “active” on your report, you’ll have to get in touch with the bank and have them change that entry.

Here are the items that you need to check on your credit report each time you review it:

Names and Addresses – Current and previous addresses are listed on the report as are any name changes. Make sure that these are accurate. This information is used to identify you and if a wrong previous address shows up, it might raise a red flag to someone doing a background check.

Social Security Number and Date of Birth – These are critical pieces of information used to identify you. A mistake in either one will cause a lender to look at someone else’s information, thinking it is you.

Employment Information – This also is not used to get credit, but it may be of concern to a landlord or employer who is doing a background check.

Credit Accounts – For every credit card, auto loan, mortgage and other debt you have taken on, the following information is recorded:

1.) The date the account was opened
2.) The credit limit or loan amount
3.) The current balance
4.) The payment history, including late or missing payments

It is critical to your credit rating that these are accurate. It’s easy for a lender to get a date or payment amount wrong, so check on these items carefully and get any mistakes changes promptly.

Credit Inquiries – Any time a lender requests to review your credit report, a note is made on it. This can happen if you apply for a credit card or if a lender requests to look at the report because you responded to a credit card offer in the mail. Make sure all of these entries are valid. If you have an excessive number of credit inquires on your report, especially within a short amount of time, lenders will be hesitant to work with you.

Public Record Information – Information that can be discovered in public records is also found on your credit report. This includes:

1.) Collection agency activities against you
2.) Bankruptcy filings and discharges
3.) Home foreclosures, pending and completed
4.) Lawsuits against you or any businesses you own
5.) Court attachments on your wages to collect on debts, such as child support
6.) Any liens and judgments currently against you or resolved in the past

This information can make it difficult for you to get credit from anyone, so make sure that every detail is accurate.

All of the information on your credit report is important to someone at sometime. Make it a habit to check your credit report at least twice a year and before you apply for a large loan or any mortgage. Getting changes made to any mistakes on your report can take several weeks, so don’t wait until the last minute to review it.

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