How to Get a Credit Report

There are many avenues you can take to view your credit score and financial history‚ but many consumers want to know how to get a credit report that is easy to read and understand. And unfortunately‚ that isn't always easy to find. Some reports are very user-friendly; others can be confusing. Here's a look at three popular methods most people use to get a glimpse at this important document‚ and the pros and cons of each.

Free annual credit report

Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you can request a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can do this by heading to annualcreditreport.com or you can request it by mail.

Trials of various credit reporting agencies

A reporting or credit monitoring service can provide you with the information in your credit files‚ but some services give you access to information from only one of the credit report agencies not all three. Another common problem is that many individuals miss out on the full value of a credit monitoring service when they cancel too quickly. If you go through one of these free trials‚ be sure to check out all the benefits before you terminate the relationship — you may not have taken full advantage of the program.

Paying for a service

Apart from getting a free credit report annually from one of the three major bureaus, you can also pay to get a report more often; either through one of the major credit reporting agencies or through another service.

If it’s on your credit report it may be too late.

While credit reports can give you an overview of  activity in your credit files, it is often late in informing you about a potentially fraudulent account, because of the lag between an account being opened, reported to the bureau, and you seeing it on the report. Add that to the fact that you might only be accessing a credit report a couple of times a year and you’re leaving yourself more vulnerable to fraud.

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