What's exactly in your report, and what does it mean?
It's an incredibly simple process if you want to access your credit report online, log on to www.annualcreditreport.com, select the state in which you live, and then fill out your personal information. You can order reports from all three nationwide credit bureaus at once or stagger the requests over the year.
Within seconds your credit history is at your fingertips, but what exactly is your credit report showing you?
"Looks at overall debt, how much debt awarded, payment history broken down in graphs, how many payments have been 30 days late, 60 days late or 90 days late," says Rockford bankruptcy attorney Brian Hart.
You'll also notice a list of inquiries made by financial institutions and information on public record like foreclosures and bankruptcies.
Hart Says there are several things you should look for on your report.
"Inaccuracies; check prior addresses and debts that have been paid out, or are they still showing as outstanding debts?" says Hart.
So what if you find inaccuracies in your report?
"Contact the credit reporting agency directly. They have to verify that information from the source If they can't do it within 30 days, they must remove it," says Hart.
For $5 you can view your credit score. Credit scores range from 330 to 830 points and to put it simply, in this day and age monitoring your credit report is critical. Finding errors and understanding your financial activity is the key to preserving your good name.
If you want to access a free copy of your credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or you can call 1-877-322-8228. You can also request a copy by mail.
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281