Check Your Credit Report Often

Your credit report is one of the fundamental financial documents that represent your overall financial health. Your credit report is used whenever you apply for a loan, credit card, mortgage and sometimes even a job or security clearance. Having a clean credit report and a high credit score can save you thousands of dollars in…
Advertising Disclosure.

Advertiser Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone. This article may contain links from our advertisers. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

default image

Your credit report is one of the fundamental financial documents that represent your overall financial health.

Your credit report is used whenever you apply for a loan, credit card, mortgage and sometimes even a job or security clearance.

Having a clean credit report and a high credit score can save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a loan and make it easier for you to be approved for a loan request.

Your credit report can be used to help you monitor your financial situation and detect identity theft.

Because your credit is linked to so many aspects of your financial life, you should check your credit report often to verify its accuracy and help monitor for identity theft and other credit fraud.


Check Your Credit Report Regularly

Problems with your credit or fraud can cause huge problems if left unattended.

The more quickly you detect an inaccuracy or fraud, the easier it is to take care of the problem.

Because your credit report and credit score are so important, it is imperative that you ensure they are accurate.

Thankfully, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once per year from AnnualCreditReport.com.

You should note that the free credit report does not come with a free copy of your credit score, but you can access that another way.

You should monitor your credit report and examine it for common errors found on credit reports.

Why You Need to Monitor Your Credit Report

Your credit report is a historical list of each credit account you have ever opened or been listed on.

Inaccurate information can cost you thousands of dollars. You could get less-favorable credit terms because you have a lower credit score than you should truly have, or you might not noticing that someone stole your identity and racked up thousands of dollars in debt in your name. Checking your credit report often will notify you quickly if there are any inaccuracies or other problems that need to be taken care of.

Why You Should Check for Credit Report Errors

Errors on your credit report can prevent you from getting a personal or auto loan, a mortgage, a credit card, or even a job. If you’re seeking a loan for any reason, you’ll want to have a recent copy of your credit report in hand early enough to dispute any information that is incorrect.

If your identity has been stolen, you’ll want to be able to clear your name, so it’s a good idea to check your credit report at least once a year in order to ensure that all the information contained within it is accurate.

Obtaining a free copy of your credit report is simple, and only takes a few minutes.

You can also get a copy of your credit report from companies that offer credit scores as well. Just be sure to read the fine print because credit scores are not always free and often require a credit card.

If you prefer not to complete the form online, you can call 877-322-8228 to request a hard copy of the form, or locate it online and print it out. Once you have the form filled out, mail it to:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
PO Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

The law allows you one free credit report each year from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies.

You’ll be required to provide the following information in order to receive your report:

  • Your full name (and any names you’ve used in the previous year, including your maiden name if recently married)
  • Your current address (and recent addresses if you’ve moved during the previous two calendar years)
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your date of birth

You may also be required to answer some questions about your family in order to verify your identity.

Monitor for Inaccuracies on Your Credit Report

Mistakes happen. Some of them are honest errors, but some of them may be a more serious indication of fraud. Go through each line item thoroughly to verify it is a credit account you opened and that the information is accurate.

It is not unheard of for information to be transcribed incorrectly or to find someone else’s information on your credit report. Look for some of these common errors, and contact the credit bureau if you notice any errors or fraud.

Common Credit Report Errors:

  • Inaccurate personal info: Verify your name, Social Security number, address and other personal details.
  • Inaccurate/outdated account info: Ensure your recent account closures and credit limit changes are listed.
  • Inaccurate listings for delinquencies or missed payments: Provide proof of your payments with bank statements or canceled checks.
  • Missing accounts: Verify that each account you have open is listed.
  • Duplicate accounts: Double-check that no accounts are listed more than once.
  • Phantom accounts: Phantom accounts belong to someone else or don’t exist at all. These may be more common if someone has a similar name or Social Security number as you.
  • Negative line items more than seven years old: Your credit score should usually only list items from within the last seven years.

How to Report an Inaccuracy, Dispute the Error and Get It Corrected

Should you find inaccurate information on your credit report, you’ll want to report it immediately. Make a copy of the credit report and type a letter describing the inaccuracy in full detail. Enclose any copies of documents supporting your position, which could include statements from companies showing the bill was paid or canceled checks.

Send all of this to the consumer reporting agency. Be sure to keep a copy for yourself. Send your letter by certified mail and request a return receipt.

The credit reporting agency will be required to investigate all the items in dispute within 30 days unless they consider your dispute frivolous. You’ll receive the results in writing when the investigation is complete. If a correction has been made to your credit report, you’ll also receive a copy of the updated report.

Disputing errors on your credit report is important if you’re trying to rebuild your credit or obtain a mortgage or other loan. Following these steps are important and can help you maintain good credit.

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

Posted In:

About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is The Military Wallet's founder. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over six years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the Illinois Air National Guard.

Ryan started The Military Wallet in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about personal finance and investing at Cash Money Life.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free Personal Capital account here.

Featured In: Ryan's writing has been featured in the following publications: Forbes, Military.com, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, Reserve & National Guard Magazine (print and online editions), Military Influencer Magazine, Cash Money Life, The Military Guide, USAA, Go Banking Rates, and many other publications.

Reader Interactions

Comments

    Leave A Comment:

    Comments:

    About the comments on this site:

    These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. pennystocks says

    I second this article.
    Recently I checked my statement and found charges not by me. I found them soon enough to delete card and battle the charges. It only takes a few seconds.

The Military Wallet is a property of Three Creeks Media. Neither The Military Wallet nor Three Creeks Media are associated with or endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. The content on The Military Wallet is produced by Three Creeks Media, its partners, affiliates and contractors, any opinions or statements on The Military Wallet should not be attributed to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Dept. of Defense or any governmental entity. If you have questions about Veteran programs offered through or by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, please visit their website at va.gov. The content offered on The Military Wallet is for general informational purposes only and may not be relevant to any consumer’s specific situation, this content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. If you have questions of a specific nature consider consulting a financial professional, accountant or attorney to discuss. References to third-party products, rates and offers may change without notice.

Advertising Notice: The Military Wallet and Three Creeks Media, its parent and affiliate companies, may receive compensation through advertising placements on The Military Wallet; For any rankings or lists on this site, The Military Wallet may receive compensation from the companies being ranked and this compensation may affect how, where and in what order products and companies appear in the rankings and lists. If a ranking or list has a company noted to be a “partner” the indicated company is a corporate affiliate of The Military Wallet. No tables, rankings or lists are fully comprehensive and do not include all companies or available products.

Editorial Disclosure: Editorial content on The Military Wallet may include opinions. Any opinions are those of the author alone, and not those of an advertiser to the site nor of  The Military Wallet.