Credit Reports 101
What is a credit report?
Your credit report is simply a compilation of your financial obligations - credit cards, store charge cards, loans, and collection accounts, as well as public records like judgments, bankruptcy, and tax liens. All of this information is considered your "credit history," which affects your ability to rent an apartment, buy a car or house, or even get a job.
Why does a credit report matter?
Lenders, employers, apartment managers and other individuals request your credit report (with your permission) to determine whether you qualify for a loan, an apartment, or a job. With so much on the line, it's important to monitor the information on your credit report to ensure that you're building a positive record of your financial habits.
Where can I get a copy of my credit report?
There are three major companies that compile your information into a credit report - Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. By law, you are entitled to access your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus for free once a year. You can access the three reports online or by submitting a request by phone or by mail.
To access your reports online go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the free website that was established by the government to allow you to access all three credit reports from one place. You can choose to check all three at once or you can stagger them, so that you check one every four months. Whatever pattern you choose, it's important to keep checking your report year after year to make sure that there are no errors or identity theft issues.