Understanding the Importance of an Annual Credit Report|
Author: Trevor Mulholland
Getting an annual credit report has been likened to getting an annual physical check-up. Some people may view it as something that can be put off for later. It may have been an annoying inconvenience in the years past, but today’s Internet technology has facilitated the process. It is as important to an individual’s fiscal health as a physical exam is important to his or her physical health. Also, as in a physical exam, getting a credit report can help prevent bad things from happening (financially speaking) and if financial problems already exist, viewing your credit report can prevent things from worsening.
During the past years, an individual would have had to fork over $9 to get a copy of his or her credit report. Today, however, consumers are entitled to get a free copy of their annual credit report, thanks to a law passed by the United States Congress in 2003: the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA). Under this law, American citizens can avail of a copy of their credit report every twelve months, gratis. All they have to do is log on to Annual Credit Report, a web site made possible through the cooperation of the top three U.S. credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. It is also possible to request individual credit reports from these three agencies.
However, keep in mind that the content of credit reports from these agencies may differ. For instance, a person’s TransUnion and Equifax credit report may contain information about court accounts and late payments, while his or her Experian report may reveal other information. All these pieces of information are vital to a person’s fiscal health. Why is this so? Many people might not realize it, but there are entities that use their credit report for reasons that affect their everyday lives.
For instance, if you are applying for a mortgage, or if you want to re-mortgage your property, you can be assured that your credit report is one of the things that your potential creditor will consider. This information is also pertinent when it comes to things such as your automobile insurance, home insurance, and loans. It all boils down to a concept called creditworthiness. Are you credit-worthy enough for financial institutions to lend you money or underwrite your potential debt? Your credit report is one of the main factors in helping financial institutions decide this, so it is worth your time and effort to make sure that your credit report is in order; or if it is not, to take the necessary steps towards credit repair.
Because even if you are certain of all your financial dealings, you might be surprised to find inaccurate information in your annual credit report. Although such occurrences are not that frequent, they can happen nevertheless. Sometimes payments you have made or debts you have cancelled may not be reflected in your credit report, and this will negatively affect loans or other financial dealings for which you are applying. Did you know that interests on your car loan or mortgage can be affected by negative information in your credit statistics? This is one major reason why you should have the most updated copy of your credit report – any such inaccuracies will be noticed and you can take the necessary steps to correct these mistakes as early as possible.
Your credit report is another exceptional indicator of whether you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Think about it: you may have given personal information such as your Social Security number to an e-mail asking for that information or to a web site requiring that you give that sort of data first before being allowed to proceed with the site’s other services. The fact is, an unauthorized person who has your Social Security number and other personal information can get loans or credit cards under your name. Fraudsters who do this usually go on a spending spree, racking up debts with you as the debtor. Meanwhile, you go about on your daily business, innocent of the fact that your credit reputation is being ruined (for, because you don’t know about your alleged “debts,” you don’t take steps to pay them).
Then the time comes when you need financial services of your own: a mortgage refinancing or the renewal of your car insurance, and it’s only then that you see from your credit report that you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Although such situations are remediable, they can take a lot of time and hard work, not to mention the additional payments needed for credit repair purposes.
Getting an annual credit report, therefore, is essential to helping ensure one’s financial well-being. It can help you fix inaccurate credit data as early as possible to your advantage. And best of all, this credit repair tool is free!
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