Personal Finance Camp 09/15/2008

You’ve probably heard the advertisements:  Get Your Free Credit Report!  Find Out Your Credit Score!  I agree, it is important to check your credit reports regularly.  However, there are many companies that are trying to make money off your wish to check your credit report.  The real website for free credit reports is AnnualCreditReport.  From there, you can link to each of the credit reporting companies.  As you can request a free copy from each of the three companies every 12 months, I try to stagger mine.  For example, I might check the Experian report in January, then TransUnion in May, then Equifax in October.  While the information will not be exactly the same on all three reports, spreading out the checking will help you to catch errors or possible fraud as quickly as possible.

May people also want to know their credit score.  The legislation that authorized free credit reports did not address the issues of credit scores.  You can purchase your credit score from each of the credit bureaus, or get all three from the Fair Isaac company, who created the FICO score.  It is a bit expensive to purchase your FICO scores or other credit scores and you’ll want to consider whether it is important for you.  Perhaps if you are planning to buy a house, or make another large purchase, checking your FICO scores might be important.  For regular credit issues, just clearing your credit reports is probably enough.

Don’t forget – don’t pay to check your credit reports!

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.